July 8, 2014

Ronald Colman, Bulldog Drummond

as CAPT. HUGH "BULLDOG" DRUMMOND
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Bulldog Drummond was Ronald Colman's first foray into the talking pictures, and what a smashing debut it was. It's a perfect one-two punch of a delightful performance spearheading an equally delightful film. This isn't the type of performance that'll move you in any way--rather it's the kind of swashbuckling work that is effortless and reminds you how fun the movies can be. The New York Times called the film, "the happiest and most enjoyable entertainment of its kind" and I feel that this very praise is also applicable to Colman's work. His Drummond has all the helpings of a magnetic hero--debonair yet childlike in his thrill seeking, cool yet terrible sassy--there was never a moment where I found myself bored by him. While just about everyone else in Bulldog Drummond's supporting cast have moments of awkward floundering amidst this new sound environment, Colman stands out pretty vividly as the most contained, most confident, and least affected performer. This isn't an actor or a performance that tries to take itself too seriously nor does it have to rely on a schtick such as transformation or singing--it's just pure fun and excitement that holds 85 years later...easily one of the most enjoyable performances by an actor in the 1929-1930 period.


4 comments:

  1. that second shot is quite... entertaining :D

    dunno anything about the film.

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    Replies
    1. I liked it a lot! If you've seen The Thin Man/liked it, then you'd like this one.

      I can send it to you if you're ever interested :)

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    2. I also say I'm interested & in the end never get there. ;) I'll let u know if... thanks.

      I saw Thin Man about 10 years ago. I liked it. But didn't LOVE it.

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  2. From a technical standpoint, 'Bulldog Drummond' is far superior to just about any film I've seen from this period. The cinematography, art direction and audio quality surpasses anything I've seen from 1929-30. Samuel Goldwyn wanted high-caliber work and he sure got it.

    As for Ronald Colman, his 'talkie' debut is topnotch. He is completely natural, with none of the stagy mannerisms or over-cooked emoting of his contemporaries. Colman's performance could appear in a current-day film and seem just as modern as it was in 1929. In addition, his mellifluously expressive voice records beautifully and fully evidences why it became an iconic part of film history. The role of Bulldog Drummond isn't much but Colman has fun with it and displays a charming flair and an insouciant wit that's quite entertaining. After all the heaving and sighing of such melodramatic antiquities as George Arliss, Colman is a delightfully fresh presence and an absolute charmer in his first sound film.

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