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Two of the Very Best!,
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
I bought the original BFI issue of 'A Warning to the Curious' and reviewed it on Amazon just over four years ago. Now, 'The Stalls at Barchester' has been issued with 'A Warning to the Curious' as the second feature. 'The Stalls at Barchester' is a dark tale in more than one sense. Deacon Haynes (Played by Robert Hardy) covets the Archdeacon's post, and removes him from this world by contriving to have a stair-rod removed. Once ensconced in the Archdeacon's chair, Haynes finds to his cost that supernatural forces are now arrayed against him, with ultimately, fatal consequences.
The Stalls at Barchester has a claustrophobic feel to it, mainly because most scenes are set at night-time. Robert Hardy plays Haynes as a cold, calculating person with few redeeming features. A portrayal many times removed from his 'Siegfried Farnon' in 'All Creatures Great and Small.' Unlike Paxton in 'A Warning to the Curious' Haynes does not engender sympathy.
Lawrence Gordon Clark produced both titles. Chronologically, 'The Stalls at Barchester' was released the Christmas of 1971, 'A Warning to the Curious' a year later. Historically, 'The Stalls at Barchester' was set in 1932 and 'A Warning to the Curious' 1929-30.
Lawrence Gordon Clark, writer, producer and director condemned the character of Dr Black (the excellent Clive Swift.) who appears in both adaptations, to fall victim to the highly energetic (and lethal!) ghost of William Agar just before the end credits in 'A Warning to the Curious' thus making his appearance as the academic researcher in 'The Stalls at Barchester' highly unlikely if one uses the chronology originally supplied by James*.
(*The staging of A Warning to the Curious in the depression is Clark's idea, not James's.PHM)
Both photographed by the excellent John McGlashan, these two stories by M.R. James, are the pick of the BBC's Ghost Stories for Christmas.
Extras include: Both stories (later productions) narrated by Sir Christopher Lee.
A 30+ page booklet devoted to both productions, the main actors and production staff.