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Bulldog Drummond's Peril

Bulldog Drummond's Peril

UPC: 089218415592

Format: DVD

Release Date: May 20, 2003

Rating: NR

Regular price $13.95 USD
Regular price Sale price $13.95 USD
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This DVD is a real pity, because it's a deeply flawed presentation of a very good movie. Bulldog Drummond's Peril (1938), directed by James Hogan and starring John Howard, John Barrymore, and Louise Campbell, may have been the best of the B-movie Drummonds done at Paramount; it's got a good plot, excellent pacing, and good performances. But it has been issued in a barely passable DVD edition by Alpha Video, mastered from what looks to be a very worn and rather faded 16 mm dupe print that required a high-level professional transfer for it to work, and it didn't get it. There's too much light being pumped through the image in many shots, which results in most of the faces (and any light-colored clothing) being whited out in any section of the movie set in normal daylight; the night scenes have better contrast, but are marred by the soft detail of a transfer from what is very obviously a second-generation (or higher) source. There's also a fair amount of marking on the print, with small scratches and blemishes running all the way through the 67-minute film: At just over 15 minutes, there's a sign of a major splice that wasn't wholly fixed in the film-to-video transfer, and a large hair shows up at the top of the screen at around 54 minutes in, leading one to suspect that the source for this DVD was a one-light transfer from 16 mm on a film-chain, which is the least satisfactory way to master a DVD. That said, the movie is a cracking good thriller, with action throughout and a fair degree of comedy, all of it paced very briskly, involving murder, a stolen synthetic diamond, a chase by train and plane, and a threat to the economic stability of the world. Someday, Image Entertainment may issue an authorized edition of this movie (from Janus Films, which owns the story rights and has 35 mm materials on the Drummond movies), which will be a pleasure to watch. Alpha's is cheap enough, but a lot of the pleasure to be derived from Hogan's pacing and the acting by Howard, Barrymore, E.E. Clive, and Reginald Denny is lost in the chore of watching this flawed release. Alpha has given the movie the company's usual six chapters, which is just adequate for a film with as much plot as this one has packed into its 67 minutes. The disc opens automatically on a simple menu that offers "play" and chapter selection options and a look at the company's catalog.
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