Some Girls Do (1969): Bulldog Bond’s last stand

28 AUGUST 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (5):

  • Starring James Villiers (Bill Tanner in For Your Eyes Only) as main villain Carl Peterson.
  • Featuring Daliah Lavi (The Detainer in Casino Royale [1967]) as Baroness Helga.
  • Featuring Virginia North (Olympe in OHMSS) as one of Peterson’s guards.
  • Featuring Joanna Lumley (Angel of Death in OHMSS) as one of Peterson’s women.
  • Lyrics by Don Black (James Bond, various, 1964 – 1989).

Some Girls Do was the third and final 1960s spy movie starring Shakespearian leading man Richard Johnson, the darkly handsome actor who was a leading contender for Bond in 1962. A sequel to Deadlier than the Male (1967), Johnson again plays an updated version of H.C McNeile’s long running hero ‘Bulldog Drummond’. Whilst the filmmakers behind Deadlier than the Male clearly modelled their update of Sapper’s hero on Sean Connery’s Bond, the earlier film maintained its own individuality by casting Drummond as an insurance investigator – rather than an operative of British intelligence – and adding some family peril. However, in Some Girls Do Drummond’s profession is barely referenced by the clunky script and the character is portrayed as just another Bond-style spy. But with plenty of action, amusing characters, and a great soundtrack (Bond lyricist Don Black pens the catchy theme tune), Some Girls Do is a lot of campy fun. For James Bond fans, the film presents a final chance to see an actor who nearly was 007 star in an espionage movie.

Once again, Hugh Drummond is trying to stop evil mastermind Carl Peterson interfering with British industry – this time involving the proposed destruction of a prototype jet plane. As noted, in Some Girls Do the Drummond character is even closer to Bond. Drummond’s mission is of national importance (if successful Peterson could cost the UK £1 billion in exports) and whilst abroad he freely receives support from the British Foreign Office, including assistance from a foppish but amusing foreign office junior official named Peregrine Carruthers, played by English stage actor Ronnie Stevens. Unfortunately, returning director Ralph Thomas had to try his best with a lacklustre script. But as before, Richard Johnson wears his Shakespearean pedigree lightly as Drummond and proves yet again pitch perfect amongst the campy proceedings. The fact Johnson still shines amidst inferior material proves he would have been an ideal Bond – like Sean Connery and Roger Moore, he proves comfortable whatever the tone or quality of the script.

Just as it was always a different actor playing Blofeld in the 1960s and 70s, here future For Your Eyes Only (1981) actor James Villiers takes over as Peterson (above). Villiers proves a youthful but inferior substitute for Nigel Green from the earlier film, completely lacking in menace. Sadly, Peterson’s island hideaway – filmed in an awful looking concrete hotel in Spain – is a far cry from his elegantly furnished castle used in Deadlier than the Male. In an unsuccessful attempt to build on the success of the earlier film, where Elke Sommer and Sylvia Koscina made such an impact as deadly assassins, here Peterson has a small army of female killers. Sadly, the multiple beauties (one of whom – Joanna Lumley, below – played one of Blofeld’s Angels of Death in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service the same year) fail to match Sommer or Koscina’s presence. One fantastical plot element – on his island lair Peterson has his own “Fembots’, beautiful women he controls with the help of computer implants in their brains – anticipates Austin Powers (1997) but is a lot less fun (it’s also unclear if any of the assassins featured earlier in the film are also under mechanical control). One of them, Virginia North (returning from Deadlier than the Male in a different role), graduated to being another Angel of Death in the 1969 James Bond film.

Elsewhere, Daliah Lavi is intriguing as femme fatale Baroness Helga (below, left). She has a nice introduction prematurely gunning down Drummond’s clay pigeons before jumping into bed with the star. However, there are too many characters in the film for Lavi to really make her mark. Indeed, American actress Sydne Rome gamely plays Drummond’s friend Flicky who, after their joint holiday abroad, partners with Drummond on his mission. It turns out there is a lot more to Flicky than first appears, but the script gives little time to explore the multiple twists involving her character. However, director Ralph Thomas – with considerable help from Richard Johnson’s skilled performance – holds the film together and there is an enjoyable succession of action scenes amongst the inevitable globetrotting.


In addition to being the final spy film directed by Ralph Thomas, Some Girls Do marked the end of the short-lived Bulldog Drummond revival. There are several reasons for the film’s relative failure. Unlike Deadlier than the Male, which successfully adapted the character for the 007-age whilst maintaining its own individuality, the sequel feels too much like another Bond knock-off. It’s interesting to speculate on what a third Johnson-starring Drummond movie may have looked like, given how from 1970 onwards the tone of the genre quickly shifted to dark realism. However, on it’s own merits there is still a lot of fun to be had here and together the two films do showcase how a long-running (and old fashioned) character can be updated and reintroduced into popular culture. Both should certainly be viewed by any future producer looking to re-imagine H.C McNeile’s work. For James Bond fans, the film marks the end of the 1960s Richard Johnson spy trilogy and offers a final and intriguing chance to see how the actor might have looked as 007 if he’d had his chance back in 1962.

Do you think Some Girls Do is a worthy sequel to Deadlier than the Male? Please leave a comment or an alternative review below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *