Monday, 13 February 2012



By 1966 the James Bond films had reached their fourth instalment, Thunderball, with the fifth on the way, and the genre was already rife with spoofery, ripoff, pastiche and parody. From Hollywood there were the Matt Helms, the Man from UNCLEs and the two Flint movies; the French and Italians and apparently even the Danes had riffed on the formula (though sadly many of the European variants aren't easily available on UK DVDs). And we Brits were spoofing them ourselves: someone disinterred the Bulldog Drummond for this double-bill of outlandish pseudo-Bond nonsense. That Drummond originally dated from the 1920s in both novel and silent film didn't really matter.

Neither film is particularly great, but they are both colourful and ridiculous pantomimes in which the urbane and unflappable Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond (Richard Johnson) takes on fiendish but elegant criminal mastermind Carl Peterson (Nigel Green in the first, then James Villiers). Deadlier Than The Male is probably the better of the two films, in which Peterson schemes to assassinate an Arabian prince to gain hugely lucrative oil revenues, while Some Girls Do is easily the sillier. Peterson now has his eye on a supersonic weapon with which he can take over the world (or something). To be honest, neither film makes a huge amount of sense on a plot level.

Both movies feature, as spy movies in the 1960s were wont to do, an array of glamorous dolly birds either as killers, agents, or (in the second film) robots. It might have been acceptable then but it dates the movies quite severely; it would now be seen as hideously sexist now and you just couldn't get away with it. More exciting is the strong supporting casts of character actors: Leonard Rossiter, Laurence Naismith, Elke Sommer in the first, Robert Morley, Maurice Denham, Yutte Stensgaard and an uncredited Joanna Lumley in the second.

And on the level of daft spy comedies they're decent enough; although neither are particularly funny they're still fun: they rattle along quite decently along the lines of a Golden Age Avengers episode. Richard Johnson was supposedly offered the role of James Bond and turned it down, but he's very Bondian here (obviously, as a gorehound, I know him best from Zombie Flesh Eaters) and although I can't imagine anyone but Connery in those first five 007 movies it might have been interesting to have seen what he'd have made of them (he would probably have made a better Bond than Lazenby did). Both of these Drummond movies are worth a look for an evening's old-fashioned amusement and bemusement; neither are any kind of lost masterpiece or neglected classic but there's some slightly off-kilter entertainment to be had.


Get them here:

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