on 19 October 2005
I first saw this film at the cinema in 1972, and thought at the time it was the best film I'd ever seen - in fact I watched it twice that day! Now, all these years later it's still one of my all-time favorites.
Directed by Lionel Jeffries as a follow-up to his very successful 'Railway Children' movie 2 years' before it is also an English period film, but this time with very a clever plot concerning time travel and ghosts - with some very engaging performances.
He directs a first-class film despite obvious budget restrictions, and it seems a pity this movie wasn't so well-received at the box-office as his previous film.
There is excellent brooding atmosphere about the derelict mansion the family are mysteriously hired to caretake by the Amazing Mr Blunden - he has placed them there in order to right a terrible wrong of 100 years' past.
The suspense builds up to an exciting climax with the terrible fire of 100 years before played out again - and we are left to wonder if history really has been changed this time.
The music score is fantastic too - one of the best ever in my view, and one of the film's many highlights is the unforgettable perfomance of Diana Dors as the awful Mrs Wickens.
This is simply an excellent family film that leaves a lasting impression. I showed it to my son when he was 7, and he was absolutely captivated by it - just as I had been in the cinema all those years ago.
He actually calls it 'The Ghost Children' - a title I feel would have served the film better - and would have maybe drawn attention more to its supernatural elements.
Great though to see it on DVD at long last!
on 12 July 2009
I was looking to get hold of this classic film, but didn't want to pay £70 for a UK edition, especially one which used a poor NTSC American transfer. Tracked down this German import, and the print used seems to be from a totally different source, the image quality is far nicer as a result.It's not perfect by any means, but the outdoor scenes don't suffer colour bleeding like the UK Anchor Bay editions. The default language is German, but it also plays in English without subtitles. There are no extra features and the cover is all in German, but this is currently the best quality version available, better picture and cheaper than the now out of print UK edition.
on 27 December 2003
This film is excellent from start to finish. It involves a ghost, seeking help from two children. They need to go back a hundred years, and help this ghost to save two other children from being killed in a fire.
The two actors who shine here are Laurence Naismith (1908 -1992) and Diana Dors (1931 - 1984). Naismith plays a ghost in the form of an old man, who seeks help from the children, and Diana Dors is the villain.
As mentioned before, this film is best watched on a rainy day, when you can cuddle up on the sofa. Lionel Jeffries, the director, also made 'The Railway Children' two years earlier. Even though 'The Railway Children' is more popular, this film is the better of the two.
The special features include biographies of the main cast; Laurence Naismith, Diana Dors, and the supporting cast such as the children. There is also an interview with Lionel Jeffries - though he doesn't speak about the film unfortunately. Also includes an interesting Still Gallery.
One of my favourite parts of the film, is the score. Elmer Bernstein's work is brilliant, and the score is really fitting.
I would recommend this film to almost anyone.
on 13 February 2003
Out of the same stable as 1970's 'The Railway Children' this film has long lived in the earlier's shadow - rarely receiving a UK television outing. This is - very much - unfair as in many ways it's a much superior film. A ghost-story for intelligent children (and adults!), it oozes period charm like its elder sibling and boasts performances as strong, if not stronger.
Lynne Frederick and Garry Miller are convincing as the children called to travel back in time to save two other children from a gruesome death. Rosalyn Landor, well suited to the Empire-line, is charming as the elder of the two ghosts and Laurence Naismith as the solicitor with the tormented soul is powerful and moving. Watch out especially for the scene where he leads Miller up the stairs, suffering the pain of a century's folly, to make good his earlier, fatal, error of judgement. Powerful stuff.
Diana Dors comes of age as a character actress here, too, and this is a must-see for all her fans.
The twist-in-the-tale ending has often been done since, but rarely any better, and still leaves the viewer who has soul with a warm glow and a tear in his eye. Thirty-one years has been too long a wait for the opportunity to own this film.
Buy it, lock yourself away one Sunday afternoon and wallow. It's beautiful and it's worth it.
on 27 April 2003
I saw a repeat of this film the other day, and just had to come here to buy a copy.
I read the origional book at school, and the film was a rare treat, in that it had lost nothing of the origional story. It has not dated over the years, being set in 1918 and 1818, the costumes and manor house setting never will, but most of all, the plot has just about everthing you could want.
There is the wonderful potrayal of mixed class fortune, Diana Dors is fabulous as Mrs Wickins, surely one of the best mother-in-law from hell images ever, and a supporting cast who's characters good or bad are all understandable, without having to be forcably explained. Even the chilren all give quality performances, and move between comedy and drama seemlessly. Indeed were this film an entirly adult venture, I don't think anything could have been lost or gained.
The film includes time travel, murder, wealth, arson, class seperation, ignorance and the struggle for redemption, all tied to the spirit of a certain Mr Blunden, a soul who's past misdeed and conscience would not allow him to rest in peace.
It may not sound much like a childrens film, but there is nothing here that in anyway shocks or is morally corruptable, and it is filmed in a similar manner to 'The Railway Chilren', with glorious scenes of bygone days, and an English countryside from a gentler time.
Lawrence Naismith (always one of my favorite actors),is just right as Mr Blunden, the mysterious benefactor who shapes the films events, and who's line 'we three kings', was proberbly better explained in the book.
This film is surly a must for anyone who enjoys a well crafted and well acted film, and if I can think of any critisism at all, it is that it's title should have stayed 'The Ghosts', as 'The Amazing Mr Blunden' doesn't give it the class it deserves.
on 5 May 2003
This is a fantastic film, which I understand has never been shown on TV. It tells story about 2 child ghosts who enlist the help of 2 present day children to help reverse a disaster that occurred 100 years previously.
If you like the Secret Garden and the Railway Children you will absolutely adore this film - even adults will like this! So tuck yourself away on a rainy Sunday afternoon and enjoy.
on 30 June 2003
having first watched this film as a child when i was ill one winter, i have been captivated by it ever since, simply one of the best films i have ever seen, and almost 30 years later i have a chance to own it for ever.
Daina Dors is superb as the wicked stepmother and the supporting cast especially Laurence Naismith are all fantastic.
the whole film has a charm and pathos that is rarely seen these days, and that is all the more pity.
i reccommed this film wholeheartedly, perfect for a rainy sunday afternoon, curled up in front of a roaring fire, and let yourself be transported back in time with the children in the adventure.
The Amazing Mr. Blunden is directed by Lionel Jeffries who also adapts the screenplay from Antonia Barber's novel The Ghosts. It stars Lynne Frederick, Garry Miller, Rosalyn Landor, Marc Granger, Laurence Naismith, Diana Dors, Madeline Smith and James Villiers. Music is scored by Elmer Bernstein and cinematography by Gerry Fisher.
1918, London, England, and Mrs. Allen and her three children are visited on Christmas Eve by mysterious old solicitor Mr. Blunden. He offers them a way out of their impoverished surroundings in Camden Town. There's a housekeeping opportunity at a derelict country mansion called Langley Park, the place having been gutted by a major fire previously. There's a reason for the two eldest Allen children, Lucy and Jamie, being there, their help is needed....by child ghosts from 1818!
It has one of the worst posters ever made for a movie, a poster that hints at some guy called Blunden being some superman type magician! Which when coupled with the title of the film really sets up a bum steer for new viewers. To those in the know, the nostalgic Brits like myself, it's a lovely ghost/fantasy story about cross time redemption, resplendent in period flavours whilst operating from an intelligent script. The complex story is delicately crafted by director Jeffries (The Railway Children), this is never about scares, it's a Dickensian type drama that features ghosts of children clutching in the future for help in the past. Relationships are well formed, villains (Dors unrecognisable and immensely vile like) are afforded time to not be of the pantomime kind, and it all builds to a dramatic last quarter where sitting on the edge of your seat is a requisite. And then comes a moment to put warmth into the coldest of hearts.
A beautiful movie, directed and acted with appropriate skill from all involved. If you're looking for a family friendly period ghost story, this is for you. 8/10
on 28 October 2005
Like many of the reviews here I too was taken to the pictures as a 6 yr old to watch this movie. It captivated me then and still does to this day. About 10 years later it was shown on tv and I taped it and to this day still have that copy, although it is very well worn now. It is a good old fashioned family movie with no bad language featured anywhere. Diana Dors was superb and I cant picture her in any other role now but the one of Mrs Wickins..although I am sure she wouldnt appreciate that! My 2 children grew up with the movie and I am now living in Australia and have introduced it to my stepchildren who also love to watch it. Out of my whole collection of movies this has got to be the most watched. Unfortunately for me we dont have a multi region DVD player so buying the movie on DVD wouldnt do me any good, I just have to hope and pray my tape lasts out! A must for all families on a cold winters day.
on 15 March 2013
This is one of the most wonderful, magical films ever made for children from a particular period of British cinema that saw precious little else of the same calibre for kids being made here in the UK. One of the few others from the period is the equally charming 'The Railway Children' also directed by the late, great Lionel Jeffries.
There are obviously certain reviews herein from the usual minority who simply don't 'get it' which is to be expected, but some are so overly analytical it beggars belief quite frankly. This is a film made primarily for children, yet there's even a whole paragraph in a certain review dedicated to the subject of the particular pattern of fire damage in climactic scenes being inconsistent with that of an old house - looks as if it were written by some geeky 'Fire Safety Officer' with absolutely no sense of fun, fantasy or imagination whatsoever. We have Victorian children here travelling through time yet this is the focus of their critisism on the grounds of realism - what on earth? Give it to the kids and they'll love it. You don't have to watch films made for children if you don't want to - most especially if you don't have kids or you've simply forgotten what it was like to be one yourself (if you ever were).
The film is brilliantly made with a charm and atmosphere that could not be improved upon, even with the greatest of modern-day CGI. The acting and effects are perfectly adequate to convey the story and do not detract in any way, which is the most fundamentally important thing. The 'look' and the 'feel' of the film is just perfect, further enhanced by a superbly delicate soundtrack by the great Elmer Bernstein, vaguely reminiscent of his similarly haunting work on 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Children should enjoy, as my young daughter has done for many years (without over-analysing the pyrotechnics I hasten to add, which are perfectly acceptable, particularly for the pre-CGI era). If you're an adult who saw it first time round, just relax and savour a wonderful atmospheric halcyon moment of early '70s simplicity with your family (as opposed to taking notes).
Furthermore, a certain reviewer herein also has the audacity to use this forum to tell people not to buy the official release from Amazon but to buy DVD-Rs from ebay instead because they're cheap. The term 'Public Domain' is utterly misunderstood. In most cases all it means is that the likelihood of anyone distributing unlicensed copies of a particular film being prosecuted is ostensibly of lesser risk than for distributing certain others. What it does not mean is that there are no copyrights attached. People distributing unlicensed home-spun copies of this film should therefore beware.
Regrettably, the same reviewer (originally a 3 star review, now changed to the only 1 star review here to date since throwing their proverbial dummy out of the pram, which speaks volumes) states that they were apparently made 'uncomfortable' by the finale of the film - even making smutty 'dirty old man' type references in relation to the wonderfully innocent character of Mr Blunden. In this regard, they even cast aspersions on the 'mindset of its makers' - how sad. I respectfully suggest that anyone whose mind has become so warped and corrupted that they are unable to watch an innocent old fantasy character blow a kiss to camera, should not be watching family films of this genre from this era in the first place. Personally I believe that Laurence Naismith's performance is superb in every way as usual, and if his closing kiss is 'cringe-worthy' then a cringe-worthy kiss I blow to all who love this movie as much as I do x