Cast & Crew
After Captain Sonnenberg is pushed off a cliff by an unseen assailant, Vivian Bailey, who was lovingly reared by Sonnenberg after her father's death, returns to England from America. Unaware of his demise, Vivian and the captain's nephew, Cliff Sonnenberg, go to visit the captain, but his housekeeper, Kitty Fyffe, does not know where he is. Later, police inspector McIver informs them that the captain has been killed in a fall and tries to establish their whereabouts at the time of his death. Meanwhile, Bulldog Drummond's assistant, Algy Longworth, has inadvertently purchased a model, made by Sonnenberg, of a schooner, "The Flying Dutchman," at a London auction. Vivian shows up at Drummond's apartment offering to buy the model from him, but Drummond is suspicious and they decide not to sell her the boat. Later, Vivian goes to a pub, also called "The Flying Dutchman," and arranges with Blinky Henderson, who had sailed with her father on the real "Flying Dutchman," to steal the model from Drummond's apartment. After the robbery, Blinky notices something strange about the model's sails and replaces them with other material, then is shot by an unseen attacker. Upon being advised by Inspector McIver that Blinky has been murdered, Drummond, Algy and Seymour, another assistant, go to see Kitty who, according to the auctioneer, originally brought him the model. Kitty tells them that although the captain was reputed to be quite wealthy, he was stingy with her so she helped herself to a few items in the house, including the model. At the reading of the captain's will, solicitor Jerome Roberts reveals that Sonnenberg left his entire estate to Cliff with the proviso that he sees to it that Vivian and Kitty are amply provided for. Later, Drummond and Algy pay a visit to Vivian's apartment, where police sergeant Shubeck tells them she is at Scotland Yard being interrogated about Blinky's death. While there, Drummond spots the model and notices some changes in it. At Scotland Yard, Vivian tells McIver that the last letter she received from Sonnenberg alluded mysteriously to events in the past, which are connected in some way with the model. In the event that anything untoward should happen to him, Sonnenberg instructed Vivian to look in the model for the answer to everything. Later, Drummond escorts Vivian to her apartment and she is surprised to see that the model is there. Drummond and Algy then break into the pub and find the log of "The Flying Dutchman," as well as the model's original sails. Back at his apartment, Drummond reads the log and discovers that during the boat's last voyage years before, Captain Bailey located a sunken ship loaded with gold bullion, but before it could return to shore "The Flying Dutchman" went down in a storm and only two men survived, First Mate Sonnenberg and Blinky Henderson. Sonnenberg managed to save some of the gold and buried it. The sails of the model contain clues as to the whereabouts of the gold. Drummond phones Kitty who tells him that Vivian is coming over, and leaves to see them both. However, when Drummond arrives he is mugged and subsequently held prisoner, along with Vivian, by Arno, Kitty's partner in crime. Arno persuades Drummond to have the original model sails, which are at Drummond's apartment, taken to a drop-off point. Drummond phones Seymour to arrange this, but while they are talking, he also taps out a message in Morse code on the instrument. Seymour and Algy make the drop-off, and Drummond explains to Arno that Sonnenberg left a Morse code message as to the location of the gold in the stitching of the sails. Arno then phones someone, and they all leave for a location near a lighthouse, where Arno and Kitty meet up with ringleaders Cliff and Roberts. Following the captain's coded directions, they come upon a deep hole and realize that someone has got there before them. Inspector McIver, alerted by Drummond's Morse message to Seymour, emerges from the shadows and arrests the conspirators. The inspector's men have dug up a chest full of gold and when McIver announces that the courts will decide if it will legally be Vivian's, Drummond offers to act as her solicitor.
Fred Feitshans Jr.
C. Ken Lobben
On the print viewed, some of the opening sequences appeared in a different order than that documented in the post-production cutting continuity in Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library. Although the credits state that this film was "Adapted from the original story," its plot bears no resemblance to the plot of the novel The Challenge. The 1938 Paramount film Bulldog Drummond in Africa (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0524) was, according to its credits, also based on The Challenge, but it, too, bears no resemblance to the novel.
According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, United Artists bought film rights to certain Bulldog Drummond stories in November 1946. UA then assigned these rights to Edward Small Productions, Inc. which, in turn, assigned them to Reliance Pictures, Inc. which was headed by Small's son Bernard and Ben Pivar. Bernard Small had previously co-produced for Columbia Bulldog Drummond at Bay and Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back, both with Ron Randell in the title role. Reliance produced one other Drummond film, 13 Lead Soldiers (see below) immediately after releasing The Challenge. For additional information on other Bulldog Drummond films, consult the Series Index and see entry for Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0525.