12 December 2008 | robert-temple-1
No Laughs but a Straightforward Mystery
This was the nineteenth Bulldog Drummond film, and the first of the two starring Tom Conway (both made in 1948). It is based on Sapper's novel 'Challenge', and is the second filmed version of that novel, the first being 'Bulldog Drummond in Africa' of 1938, starring John Howard. In this film, there are no gags or laughs at all, and workmanlike director Jean Yarbrough moves things right along, helming a straightforward mystery story. Tom Conway is excellent as a smoothie Drummond, who could be the Falcon. There is no butler. Drummond's friend Algy Longworth is played by a charmless washed-out actor named John Newland, who is about as interesting as a wet biscuit. So we are left only with the main actor and the mystery story, as there is no ensemble. The tale is rather ingenious, and it is a bit of a challenge to figure out where the gold is buried, with the directions to the spot concealed in a series of sails rigged on model sailing ships which keep getting stolen by mysterious people in the dark. June Vincent is the gal, who seems very suspicious for some time, but then we learn who the real villains are. This is an enjoyable Drummond film which makes up for what it lacks in charm with a good yarn. Tom Conway was a very good Drummond in his two appearances in the role, if you like your tales straight up and without any of the bubbles and froth of the more amusing versions.