Lord Rupert presents this most Chappist of action comedies, spoofing the Bulldog Drummond novels of the 1930s. Captain Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond (Alan Shearman)—WWI flying ace, Olympic athlete, racing driver and part-time sleuth—must save the world from the dastardly Count Otto von Bruno (Ronald E. House), his wartime adversary. And, of course, win the heart of the heroine (Diz White).
Made by George Harrison’s Handmade Films the movie was directed by Dick Clement and produced by Ian La Frenais, the men best known for writing TV sitcoms such as The Likely Lads, Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, but the writing credits here go to all three stars. The film was adapted from the 1974 stage play Bullshot Crummond, which played in London before being taken to America and filmed for TV. (According to Ron House’s website it still averages 60 productions a year; in 2012 Ron penned a sequel, Bullshot Crummond and the Invisible Bride of Death.)
The film is full of sterotypes of the genre—bald villains, absent-minded professors, femme fatale spies, etc, but just as much fun is had by undermining these traditions: despite his status as all-round hero, Crummond is more a destroyer than saviour, often saving the day through blundering accident rather than design. He keeps bumping into members of his old regiment, the Royal Loamshires, who were maimed by his incompetence (including Hawkeye MacGillicuddy—now blind—played by Billy Connolly). Although allegedly well-endowed, Crummond is something of a prude with ladies (“Is this seemly, Mrs Platt-Higgins? Playing popular music and your husband only ten years dead?”). Of course he is also capable of implausible feats of arcane skill—scaring off a giant octopus by mimicking the sound of an approaching whale, defusing a bomb with his hands tied using static electricity and brandy fumes and some unlikely marksmanship: “By rapidly calculating the pigeon’s angle of elevation in the reflection of your monocle, then subtracting the refractive index of its lens, I positioned myself at a complementary access…and fired. It was no challenge at all.”