The Amazing Mr. Blunden - The Amazing Mr. Blunden(Blu Ray) [Second Sight - 2019]From the early 1970’s The Amazing Mr. Blunden is a charming and heart-warming slice of very English family-focused cinema. It brings together elements of Dickens like period drama, ghosts, time travel fantasy, and some lightly trippy visuals. From Second Sight here we have a new Blu ray reissue of this quirky classic- bringing together a new print of the film, a commentary track, and one or two extras.
Appearing in 1972 The Amazing Mr. Blunden was directed & written by actor turned director Lionel Jeffries- it’s based on The Ghosts a 70's novel by Antonia Barber. The film is wonderfully realized in its look/ feel, as we go from snow ladened streets of Christmas London, onto the rundown grand country house- both in late winter, through to sunny flashbacks. The film is very English & very 70’s in it’s lulling & loose blend of genres such as subtle creepy ghost story, Dickens like drama and characterization, with twists into fantasy & light trippiness.
The film begins with Mr. Blunden (Laurence Naismith)- a mysterious white mustached and sideburned man calling on a snowy Edwardian Christmas night to the rundown & squalid flat of Mrs. Allen- who is trying on her own to bring up three children- a baby in arms, and early teens Lucy and Jamie. Mr. Blunden offers the family a job looking after a rundown country house that some say is haunted- the family set off and find the house is near-derelict, and fairly soon Lucy and Jamie start encountering a young boy & girl from Georgian period who have seemingly time-traveled forward with the use of a herb potion. They ask Lucy & Jamie to come back to the past, to save them from been killed by the wonderfully campy 'n' nasty Housekeeper Mrs. Wickens- played by the normally glamorous Diana Dors.
The Amazing Mr. Blunden is on par with other great family fantasy films of the ’70s like Charlie & the Chlocate Factory & At Earths Core- though of course with more ghost & country themes- at times nod towards folk horror. And though things never get too horrifying, and chilling there are a few subtle creepy moments- like when the ghost children first appear from the mists of one of the houses grand lawns. The costumes & beautiful settings are very well realized, and the actors- both older & younger are all picked well, all to create a very charming-yet-unpredictable unfold to the film- the score is also nicely pleasing/ memorable as it has a piano/ string melody running throughout the film's length. I think I must have missed the film when it originally came out- as it was released a year or so before I was born, and then somehow I’ve never seen it in the ensuing forty plus years- but it really is a wonderful charming time capsule, on par with other great family films of the decade.
The new print looks very good- nicely highlight the 70’s film stock, yet never over blowing/ brightening things- so it feels both authentic & cozy- never feel in any way too sharp or crisp. We get a commentary track-this features the following cast members Madeline Smith, Rosalyn Landor, Stuart Lock, and Marc Granger- with the whole thing been topped off by film critic and genre writer Kim Newman. The track moves from each discussing how they got their roles & found on set memories, before going onto discuss the host of character actors who appear in the supporting cast. The original novel is mentioned/ discussed, and apparently, the ‘modern’ part of the story was originally set in the 1970s. We get talk about locations & generally on screen observations. On the whole it's a very chatty, if at times sporadic track, and on a few occasions it does get a little muddle when everyone's talk at once- but it’s an enjoyable enough track.
Next, we get three stand-alone interviews- these each run between ten & seventeen minutes- we get one Madeline Smith, one with Rosalyn Landor and lastly one with a longterm fan of the film Mark Gatiss. We get a 2014 BFI panel with a few of the cast and this lasts around fifteen minutes.
The finished set comes in ridge slipcase- and along with the Blu ray you get a softcover book- taking in the original story the film was based on, and new essays by Kevin Lyons and Kim Newman. Oh there's also a poster- though I can’t comment on these, as we where sent a screener disc
All in all Second Sight has done a lovely job on this much needed deluxe reissue of this lesser-seen, but much loved 1970’s family fantasy/ ghost story.Roger Batty