Review – The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972)


Whenever i’m asked to list some of my favourite family movies, i’m always thrown back to the 1970s. Amongst the movies i have the fondest memories of you’ll find “The Railway Children” (1971), “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” (1971) and going back slightly further to the late 1960s, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. One film that hadn’t featured on that list, is the Lionel Jeffries classic from 1972, The Amazing Mr Blunden, probably because, up until this week, i hadn’t actually seen it. For some reason this wonderful movie had slipped right under my radar, and remained there for nearly five decades. It was only when i read that it was finally getting a bluray release, that i thought, maybe it’s time to catch up with it, and find out for myself, why so many people of a certain generation had such fond memories of it.

It’s a slightly complex, Dickensian ghost story about two young children, who up sticks and move, with their mother, to an old mansion in the middle of nowhere. The genial resident ghost introduces them to two ghost children, who ask them to solve an ancient mystery. This requires them to travel back in time to save two orphans from a dreadful uncle and a terrible death in a burning house.

Lionel Jeffries, while being an excellent character actor in his primary years, starring in such classics as the aforementioned Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, “First Men In The Moon” and “Murder Ahoy” proved himself to be a wonderful director as well, with films such as the delightful “Railway Children” and this gem. The Amazing Mr Blunden really is a sadly overlooked period ghost story. While charming in places, it also has a few scares and plenty of excitement. The period detail is absolutely splendid, the house itself is grand and majestic, and the costumes are gorgeous. The story may be a little weird in places, to the point I wasn’t certain i completely understood the ending, but it’s well told, moves along briskly, is nicely paced, and eventually makes perfect sense. The script is intelligent and well written. The music score was also great, beautiful yet eerie. The performances from all concerned were spot on, and while I was impressed with all of the children, the standouts were really in the adults. James Villiers is good as the uncle, while Laurence Naismith gives a ripe and charming performance in the title role. The best performance and probably the most memorable character in the film is the horrendous Mrs Wickens, the housekeeper, played, warts and all, with great gusto by the late Diana Dors. I can only assume that, after seeing this film in 1972, she became every kids nightmare.

In conclusion, this is a beautifully done, Christmas family ghost story, with elements of time travel, reminiscent to me, of the Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymore movie from 1980, “Somewhere In Time”. Lionel Jeffries gets the best performances possible from the entire cast, and gives the film the most gorgeous 1970s feel, while maintaining it’s period look. This, along with “The Railway Children”, would make the perfect double bill for a rainy Sunday afternoon…….


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I am passionate about movies and cinema generally. I love talking about them and writing about them.

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