The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) | Basil Dearden and Roger Moore’s lost British classic resurfaces on Blu-ray

The Man Who Haunted Himself
After a life-saving operation following a car crash, London businessman Harold Pelham (Roger Moore) wakes up to find his more extrovert double has been released and is now taking over his life – both at the office, where his firm is undergoing a merger, and in his private life, where an attractive woman claims to be the married CEO’s mistress. Determined to prove the doppelgänger exists, Pelham sets out to track his double down…

The Man Who Haunted Himself
In his last pre-Bond film, Roger Moore gives one his finest performances in this taunt and gripping psychological thriller, directed by acclaimed veteran director Basil Dearden, that has been rarely seen since its brief cinema release in 1970.

Known for his cheeky turns in The Saint and The Persuaders!, this film showed Moore could play it straight, and he does so here with careful restraint. Indeed, Moore cites the role of the stuffy corporate Pelham undergoing an almost supernatural existential crisis as being one of the only times he really acted.

While Moore manages not to raise his trademark single eyebrow, it’s Freddie Jones, in one of the film’s most visual arresting scenes, who gets to ham it up as an eccentric psychiatrist. The frenetic score, meanwhile, from Michael J Lewis (whose 1973 Theatre of Blood score uses similar thematic devices) only serves to heighten the film’s haunting, trippy, disconcerting atmosphere.

The Man Who Haunted Himself

Not surprisingly, the film’s downbeat story and skewed themes didn’t exactly have cinemagoers rushing to see the movie. But Moore, in the DVD commentary with the film’s scriptwriter, the late Bryan Forbes, cites poor marketing and distribution as the real factor behind the film’s failure.

The Man Who Haunted Himself is a lost British classic that deserves more respect, and this new high definition restoration is surely the first step towards rediscovering a true cinematic gem. And I’m with Moore that this film is so deserving of a sequel.

The Man Who Haunted Himself

The 2013 Network release features a HD restoration from original film elements in its 1.75:1 theatrical aspect ratio on both Blu-ray and DVD. The special features include a 34-minute music suite of Michael J Lewis’s score, a commentary from 2001 with Roger Moore and the late Bryan Forbes, original theatrical trailer, four image galleries, including storyboards, and promotional material PDFs. The DVD also features the full frame 4:3 as-filmed version of the feature.

The Man Who Haunted Himself

Besides Moore, the film’s big stars were a 1969 Rover 3.5 Litre Saloon (P5B) and a Lamborghini Islero 400 S (GTS), which were driven by Pelham and his double. The Lamborghini was sold in 2000 to a private dealer. Tragically, the film’s 60-year-old director Basil Dearden died in a car accident a year after making the film.

The Man Who Haunted Himself also screens on The Horror Channel in the UK (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 139).


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 16, 2014, in British Film, Classic, Cult classic, Must See, Must-See, Psychological thriller, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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