Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1937 Paramount film “Bulldog Drummond Comes Back,” with John Barrymore, John Howard, Louise Campbell, Reginald Denny and E.E. Clive.

Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, based on “The Female of the Species” by H.C. “Sapper” McNeile.

Photographed by William C. Mellor, musical direction by Boris Morros, art direction by Hans Dreier and Franz Bachelin, edited by James Smith, sound by Harry Mills and Charles Hisserich, interior decorations by A.E. Freudeman.

Directed by Louis King. According to the AFI Catalog, the producer was Stuart Walker.

“Bulldog Drummond Comes Back” is available on DVD from TCM.

If you’re wondering why I picked such a dismal film, “Bulldog Drummond Comes Back” was chosen entirely by random number. Almost everything is wrong with it; it packs an astonishing amount of badness into its modest 64 minutes. It’s an atrocious print (apologies). John Barrymore, who receives top billing, serves no discernible purpose in the plot except to get in and out of disguises.  Speaking of the plot, this is a mystery that requires every character to behave like an utter idiot. Bulldog Drummond projects seem to have bounced from studio to studio. Ronald Colman did one for the Samuel Goldwyn Co. in 1929 and another for Twentieth Century pictures in 1934. Jack Buchanan (yes, the Jack Buchanan from “The Band Wagon”) did a turn as Drummond in 1925 in a British version. Whether any of them are better than this is an open question since I probably won’t be exploring the Bulldog Drummond canon.  As Paramount’s answer to Fox’s Charlie Chan films, this is a complete dud.

Reminder: I am always open to suggestions for mystery films, but dependent on what’s in the Daily Mirror vault.

Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin (Sept. 11, 1937) raved: Weak hodge-podge attempt at thrills … second-rate dualler at best.

If this is a sample of the story material Paramount intends using for future productions built around the Bulldog Drummond character, may we suggest that they call the whole thing off. This incomprehensible yarn fails completely to capture the spirit of adventure that has made the Drummond books and pictures so popular. It may get by as lower berth material for smaller nabes and action spots, but even in that category it must be regarded as cheap, second rate film fare.

… with the exception of E.E. Clive and Reginald Denny, who are burdened with slim comedy, others of the cast give stilted, lifeless performances. Louis King’s direction shows haste and confusion.


Writing in the New York Times (Sept. 4, 1937), TMP said:

“Bulldog Drummond Comes Back” is unique for the simple reason that it is the first of the series in which the redoubtable Drummond is made subservient to Scotland Yard’s Colonel Neilson even in the cast billing. That, however, is probably just a natural consequence with a rookie like John Howard in the name role while the Inspector is John Barrymore. This is a minor point, though, since the picture is the pleasantest the Criterion has had in several weeks.

The current episode is, however, not the best Bulldog Drummond. The screenplay struck off by Edward T. Lowe from Sapper McNeile’s “The Female of the Species” has a wood pulp flavor and lacks character motivation.

John Barrymore, a tongue-in-cheek Colonel Neilson, enjoys himself immensely, demonstrating his versatility in disguise by emerging alternately as a grizzled sailor and a down at the heels hanger on in a Limehouse pub. E.E. Clive is always in character as Tenny, but John Howard’s Captain Drummond is more juvenile lead than astute detective. Ronald Colman still is our favorite Bulldog. Louise Campbell, a newcomer, is a charming Phyllis, a part that makes few demands of her.

Nov. 18, 2019, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have the friendly folks at a pleasant little pub.

Update: This is Forrester Harvey and Phyllis Barry.

Nov. 18,2019, Mystery Photo

Then again, the pub seems to draw  some unsavory characters. The authorities do not approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is John Rogers.


Nov. 19, 2019, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have a mysterious femme fatale. Nobody would approve of her goings-on.

Update: This is Helen Freeman.

Nov. 19, 2019, Mystery Photo

We also have this mysterious mystery gent. (Apologies for the poor quality of the screen cap – the print is a murky dupe).

Update: This is John Barrymore in one of his disguises.

Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and all mystery guests) and Thom and Megan (Monday’s mysterious unsavory character).

Nov. 20, 2019, Mystery Photo

For Wednesday, we have a mysterious butler, and being a Hollywood butler, he injects humor into the plot. And no, he most certainly does not approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is funny butler E.E. Clive.

Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Tuesday’s mystery woman and mysterious mystery gent) and Thom and Megan (Monday’s mysterious barman).

Nov. 21, 2019, Mystery Photo

For “Aha Thursday,” we have a mystery villain in very thick glasses.

Update: This is J. Carrol Naish.

Nov. 21, 2019, Mystery Photo

And Wednesday’s mysterious “funny butler” is in civilian clothes. With a mystery companion.

Update: This is Reginald Denny and E.E. Clive.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and all mystery guests except Monday’s scarf man), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mysterious funny butler), Sheila (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Jenny M. (Wednesday’s mysterious funny butler) and Thom and Megan (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mysterious funny butler).

Nov. 22, 2019, Mystery Photo

For Friday, we have our mysterious leading man …

Update: This is John Howard.

Nov. 22, 2019, Mystery Photo

… also our mysterious leading lady …

Update: This is Louise Campbell.

Nov. 22, 2019, Mystery Photo

And finally, the mystery guest who gets top billing even though he is not the leading man and spends most of the film putting on various disguises for no apparent reason.

Update: This is Barrymore putting on yet another disguise.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mysterious mystery gent and Thursday’s mystery guest No. 2), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests) and Dan Nather (Wednesday’s mysterious funny butler).

Mary Mallory: He’s in the mystery movie but in another role.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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36 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. Dan Nather says:

    I’ll take a chance — THE MAN WHO COULD WORK MIRACLES.


    • lmharnisch says:

      We’re done with “The Man Who” movies for now, after “The Man Who Wouldn’t Die,” “The Man Who Understood Women,” “The Man Who Talked Too Much,” etc. But you’re within a year of our mystery film. (Different studio, however).


  2. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    “Bulldog Drummond Comes Back” (1937)
    Forrester Harvey, Phyllis Barry.


  3. David Inman says:

    Totally spitballing here — “Rififi.”


  4. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    John Rogers in scarf.


  5. Thom and Megan says:

    John Rogers for our second mystery guest.


  6. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Helen Freeman, John Barrymore.


  7. Thom and Megan says:

    Forrester Harvey for our other guest on Monday.


  8. Anne Papineau says:

    From “The Marseille Trilogy”?


  9. Mary Mallory says:

    BULLDOG DRUMMOND COMES BACK. Forrester Harvey and Phyllis Barry Monday, Louise Campbell and Joh Barrymore Tuesday, and E. E. Clive today.


  10. Mary Mallory says:

    Helen Freeman Tuesday and is that John sutton Monday?


  11. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    E.E. Clive.


  12. Sheila says:

    Forrester Harvey, Phyllis Barry, Helen Freeman, E.E. Clive, John Rogers and John Barrymore as the pipe guy? ‘Bulldog Drummond Comes Back’


  13. Jenny M says:

    E. E. Clive


  14. Jenny M says:

    E. E. Clive


  15. Chrisbo says:

    Edgar Norton on Wednesday?


  16. Thom and Megan says:

    E. E. Clive for todayin Bulldog Drummond Comes Back.


  17. Sylvia E. says:

    Wednesday’s “Hollywood Butler” brought to mind, the wonderful butler, ‘Henry’, in “After the Thin Man”. He’s hysterical to watch. IMdB indicates he’s played by Tom Ricketts. However, when I looked up Tom Ricketts, his DOD of 1939 is too early to have him appear in this mystery movie, which I think may have a 1941 release year, if my math is right from your clue.

    Back to the drawing board.


    • lmharnisch says:

      Your math is four years too late, alas. So it could have been Tom Ricketts. But I’m afraid it’s a different “funny butler.”

      Which reminds me of Billy Wilder’s comment on the movie “Arthur.” “A movie with a funny butler? Can you believe it?”


  18. Floyd Thursby says:

    Mr. Wednesday looks like Edgar Norton to me.


  19. Mary Mallory says:

    J. Carroll Naish, Reginald Denny, and E. E. Clive.


  20. Mary Mallory says:

    Is that John Howard in the scarf on Monday?


  21. tucsonbarbara says:

    “Bulldog Drummond Comes Back”

    Monday – Forrester Harvey, Phyllis Barry, John Rogers
    Tuesday – Helen Freeman, disguised John Barrymore
    Wednesday – E.E. Clive
    Thursday – (aha!) J. Carrol Naish


  22. Floyd Thursby says:

    “Bulldog Drummond Comes Back” with a disguised John Barrymore on Tuesday and Reginald Denny on Thursday.


  23. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    J. Carroll Naish; Reginald Denny.


  24. Dan Nather says:

    Would Wednesday’s butler be E. E. Clive?


  25. Mary Mallory says:

    I got the Thursday guests, probably first, but you forgot that. John Howard, Louise Campbell, and John Barrymore for Friday.


  26. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    John Howard; Louise Campbell; John Barrymore.


  27. tucsonbarbara says:

    John Howard, Louise Campbell, John Barrymore


  28. Benito says:

    John Howard (The Philadelphia Story, Radar Secret Service) today.


  29. Mary Mallory says:

    The very first Bulldog Drummond with Ronald Colman and Charles Butterworth is very good.


  30. Benito says:

    Y’all might enjoy silly spoof BULLSHOT CRUMMOND 1983, coproduced by George Harrison. It streams on the Criterion Channel, and may be on youtube too.


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