25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Signalman  [DVD] (DVD)
The staggering quality of this simple 1970s production shines as brightly today as it did when first released. Based, quite tightly, upon Dicken's original short story, which was arguably one of his very finest tales, the result is one of the most genuinely eerie pieces ever made for television. This short film is a masterclass in how things should be made.
The casting, and cast deserved a hatfull of medals. Eliot in particular is magnificent, and gives possibly his finest performance as the doomed, haunted, eponymous signalman. The direction is well judged, and the piece is beautifully, and atmospherically shot, while the location, at the bottom of a dank cutting, is as close to the feel of the original story as you could possibly hope for. The sound too, is superb, a wonderful mono clarity so absent from many recent releases, and supports the story magnificently with simple effects like the ghostly whine of the bell.
The DVD is nicely packaged, with few extras, aside from the original story read as an audio track. I wish Eliot himself had read it, but you can't quibble. Very short, but it would be churlish to argue with it in terms of value for money. Let us just celebrate the fact that it is freely available for the first time, pour a glass of port, and put our feet up on Christmas Eve. This was easily the best of the BBCs 1960s-70s ghost stories (though the rest were excellent too), which are also now available and well worth investigating. What I now want is the 2001 mini-series of 4 M.R. James stories, read by Christopher Lee, to be released. That would complete things nicely.