Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Monday, November 13, 2017

Calling --- Who?


Bulldog Drummond Back In Postwar Business

Metro bought "all unproduced and new Bulldog Drummond yarns" (Variety) in February 1950 with intent of a series, one per year in event the first of them clicked. That was Calling Bulldog Drummond, to be produced at the company's Boreham Wood Studios during late summer 1950. MGM was thawing frozen funds by shooting seven features over the year in foreign climes. This was cash they had collected in boxoffice revenue from these countries, but couldn't take out thanks to native law requiring outlay on home ground to stimulate economy. That worked OK thanks to money going further over there than here, unions and attendant expense having caused domestic costs to soar. Biggest of oversea spenders had been King Solomon's Mines, done in England and South Africa, then more lavished on Quo Vadis, a big stimuli to Italy. Calling Bulldog Drummond was budgeted for a million, but ended up costing half again more. That was chancy for a character barely on screens since the 30's when Ronald Colman and then John Howard played him. Detective series had been dropped elsewhere, including at Metro where the Thin Man was absent since 1947. So who at Culver was champion for such dated property as Drummond?




Ads had to emphasize the "New" of Calling Bulldog Drummond, a public otherwise figuring it for a reissue, especially as the pic played down-bill in most situations.  Many keys used Drummond as support to An American In Paris. Walter Pidgeon was titular lead over otherwise Brit support, his an only meaningful name in credits. Eased to mature character work stateside, here was rugged departure that saw Pidgeon at gunplay and fist brawling, Drummond gone undercover to bust up a burgling ring. The idea was sound enough had Calling Bulldog Drummond been made cheaper, but this was new day where sole star Pidgeon, let alone as a mostly-forgot sleuth, couldn't haul weight even as a second feature. Enjoyable as it turned out, Calling Bulldog Drummond took a million $ loss, result of ruinous $372K in domestic rentals and barely better $546K foreign. Needless to say, a series was scotched. Pity so many concepts once a cinch were moribund now. Seemed everyone's crystal ball was cracked, especially at Metro. Calling Bulldog Drummond is available from Warner Archive to let us know what so many customers missed in 1951. Quality is fine, the show a trim 79 minutes, and not overstuffed as we might fear from Leo. Bonus with the DVD is the Goldwyn Bulldog Drummond from 1929 with Ronald Colman. They're a spot-on pair and much recommended.

9 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Can anyone explain the appeal of Walter Pidgeon? He always seemed like an announcer who somehow became an actor to me. Yet in one of Max Schulman's Dobie Gillis stories, a girl on a date with Dobie talks about how she likes him, which would be like a teenager now finding, say, Tom Wilkinson hot.

8:43 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

I'd recommend COMMAND DECISION for evidence of how great Walter Pidgeon could be, and there are others, of course. But then, I always liked him. As to his appeal for women, I couldn't guess, but he and Greer Garson were certainly a profitable team. Then there's ADVISE AND CONSENT, which I watched again recently, where Pidgeon was terrific, and what of he and Cagney's scenes together in THESE WILDER YEARS. Those should be run to acting students everywhere.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Okay, I guess sometimes you just never happen to have seen somebody's best roles. Obviously I've seen Mrs Miniver, but there he seemed to fall into the role of the male supporter of the female star that was so common at MGM, and just seemed to require that you looked good in evening wear.

11:27 AM  
Blogger James Abbott said...

I remember catching Calling Bulldog Drummond on WOR in New York multiple times while growing up (no doubt thanks to the influence of Chris Steinbrunner!). I think it's a tight, taut and smart little meller, with really good support from David Tomlinson. Too bad it never made a series ... this is certainly better than any of Pigeon's Nick Carter movies, all of which had higher budgets and aspirations.

12:42 PM  
Blogger lmshah said...


Walter Pidgeon is one of those veteran actors of whom was easy to take for granted because he was around forever and he made whatever he did look easy, but when you go through that filmography you realize just how many great films he was in and diverse roles he played. He could sing (a good operatic baritone too, look at SWEET KITTY BELLAIRS (1930) some time), play action-detective types (three Nick Carters at MGM, and the aforementioned CALLING BULLDOG DRUMMOND), do comedy (he was in BOTH the silent and early sound versions of THE GORILLA, and check out an interesting paring with the Italian comedian Toto called TWO COLONELS (1961) some time),he's great in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY and FORBIDDEN PLANET, and could even play a professional pickpocket HARRY IN YOUR POCKET (1974). A career that started in the Silent Era and lasted into the late 1970's is nothing to sneeze at.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

1:52 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

There had been a quartet of BULLDOG DRUMMOND "B's" in the late 'forties, two from Columbia with Ron Randell and two from Fox with Tom Conway, and a BULLDOG DRUMMOND radio series had been on Mutual throughout the decade, so the character would still have been familiar at least to fans of second-string detective shows.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Matthew Clark said...

As a young actor, Walter Pidgeon was surprisingly handsome, looking like a young Robert Taylor. Catch him in the James Whale 1933 film "The Kiss Before The Mirror". He plays Gloria Stuart's lover in this stylish art deco, early talkie. Try this link.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP-E9o-ZjCk

4:02 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

Perhaps the strongest cultural remnant of "Bulldog Drummond" (besides all those Alpha DVDs of the John Howard programmers) is "Bullshot".

Originally a cult stage comedy with clever "special effects" and a cast of five (one of whom played a mob of characters), it was heavily reworked by its authors/stars into a decently funny "real" movie. An added element: Throughout the movie Bullshot Crummond keeps meeting soldiers from his old regiment -- all crippled because of his incompetence, but still eager to take orders from their beloved CO.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

There are people who think Alpha dvds are good and that that is how these films are supposed to look. Film students used to the cheap, crappy 16mm prints they saw in classrooms who came to my programs and saw these films at their best always told me they thought the poor prints were because standards "in the old days were not as good as today." I was always amazed when I heard them say that. Then I found it was what their teachers told them.

6:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017
  • May 2017
  • June 2017
  • July 2017
  • August 2017
  • September 2017
  • October 2017
  • November 2017