Monday, February 1, 2021

Mystery Monday: 1940s Mysteries - Bulldog Drummond

Mystery Monday: Bulldog Drummond 

In a continuation of looking at 1940s mystery films, today’s post is about Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond, a fictional character who reached his heyday between 1935 and 1939 when twelve movies were produced. (Read the first post about Charlie Chan
Drummond was created by H.C. McNeile, a British soldier who served in the trenches during World War I. Because serving officers of the military were not allowed to publish under their own names, he used the pseudonym Sapper, based on a nickname of his corps, the Royal Engineers. 
The character first appeared as a policeman in The Strand Magazine, but the story did not meet with much success, so McNeile reworked him into a “gentleman adventurer.” A Great War veteran who is fed up with his sedate lifestyle, he puts out an advertisement indicating he’s “looking for excitement.” 

His experiences during the war give him abilities that later show up during his escapades such as
stealth (“he could move over ground without a single blade of grass rustling”) and the ability to incapacitate others (“he could kill a man with his bare hands in a second”). Additionally, he is well trained in jujutsu, boxing, and marksmanship. He is physically fit and described as having a high degree of common sense, often allowing him to best his opponents, even though of higher intelligence. His hobbies include poker and cricket. Quite wealthy, Drummond is a member of the fictional Junior Sports Club (a gentleman’s club) and owns a Rolls-Royce and a Bentley. He is often joined during his adventures by his former Army mates. 
Drummond was so popular that he became the model for later literary heroes such as W.E. Johns’ Biggles and Sydney Horler’s Tiger Standish. In an interview, Ian Fleming claimed that James Bond was “Sapper from the waist up and Mickey Spillane below,” indicating his belief that Drummond was autobiographical at some level. 
The plotlines are either directly about the war or include people whose lives have been impacted by it. At the end of the first book, Drummond marries his client Phyllis Benton, and she becomes an integral part of several subsequent books. She is often kidnapped by her husband’s enemies. 
McNiele achieved great success with the ten Drummond stories he wrote before his death in 1937, selling nearly 400,000 copies. (Seven more stories were completed later by McNiele’s friend Gerard Fairlie). 
In 1921, McNiele and Gerald du Maurier (father of author Daphne du Maurier) adapted the first novel, Bulldog Drummond to the stage where it ran for 428 performances. Between 1922 and 1969, Drummond would appear in twenty-four films portrayed by more than a dozen actors, including Ronald Colman, Ray Milland, and Walter Pigeon. “The Bulldog Drummond Radio Series”: ran from 1941 to 1949, and a thirty-minute episode of “Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Presents” featured Drummond in a 1956 television episode. More than eighty years after he came into existence, Drummond appeared in two graphic novels by William Messner-Loebs. 
Have you heard of Bulldog?


About Under Ground

It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people. 
When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman. 
Will she get to the bottom of the story before the killer strikes again?

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