Bulldog Drummond In Africa (1938)

Bulldog_Drummond_In _Africa_(1938)‘But, Hugh, I’m all in a dither. Have you gone slightly barmy?’

Bulldog Drummond and fiancée Phyllis are on the eve of their wedding. Again. What could possibly go wrong this time? Well, nothing it seems…until notorious spy Richard Lane kidnaps Scotland Yard chief Col. Neilsen and takes him to Africa! Neilsen has the dope on a brand new, top secret ‘Radio Wave’ thingy and Lane wants it. So Drummond and the gang set off to rescue their old friend…

Feeble slice of ‘Boys Own’ adventure that marks the lowest point in the series of eight Drummond pictures produced by Congress Pictures that starred John Howard (Drummond), E E Clive (brilliant as manservant Tenny) and Reginald Denny (Algy). H B Warner returned as Col Neilsen and Heather Angel (Hitchcock’s ‘Lifeboat’ (1944)) had secured the role of Phyllis on a permanent basis by this point. The supporting cast is enlivened by the appearance of the reliably good J Carrol Naish as the leading villain and a young Anthony Quinn in the British Consulate!

Unfortunately, none of the talent on display can rescue a limp script that was probably scribbled on the back of a table napkin. There’s some silly comedy at the start involving a lack of trousers, the usual appalling process shots and Drummond outwitting the local forces of law and order on two continents (not difficult as they are all incredibly stupid). Africa is represented by a few shots of poorly integrated library footage and a couple of mangy lions wandering around in a courtyard.

Bulldog_Drummond_In _Africa_(1938)

I knew this was going to be low budget but…

The cast try their best of course and, although the verbal sparring between Warner and Naish is not particularly sparkling, it is delivered by two consummate professionals who make all they can of it. Predictably, Clive and Denny also prove to be their usually reliable double act, but the whole enterprise looks like it was knocked off swiftly in a couple of afternoons when no-one had anything better to do with their time.

It’s hard to believe that there was another 3 films in the series after this, but things improved considerably with following entry ‘Arrest Bulldog Drummond’ (1938) and never plumbed these depths again.

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