Having watched ‘The Man Who Haunted Himself’ originally when it came to our cinema screens in 1970, I was intrigued to view it again. Even more than 40 years later, it’s a movie that stays in your memory and I can remember debating with friends as to what it was all about. Rather enigmatic, it’s almost a Jekyll and Hyde portrayal, very well acted by Roger Moore, which leaves you thinking in a perplexed sort of way.
Moore plays the part of Harold Pelham, a rich and successful businessman, a director of a marine electronics company, with status and position including a wife and two children. Rather straight in manner, he plays everything by the book, maintaining correctness in body and mind so much so that even before dialogue starts you know exactly what he’s like. One day in his car, he seems to be possessed and drives too fast only to crash and end up in hospital. Clinically dead, Harold revives with not one but two heartbeats. From then on, his life would diverge in two different and conflicting ways, creating mental anguish for the old Harold.
For some odd reason he seems to have been elsewhere, doing deeds outrageous for someone of his character like staying out late at parties, driving a flash sports car instead of the sedate Rover plus gambling and cavorting with women, a complete contrast to the impotent former self. In the boardroom, despite previously maintaining strong opposition against a merger, his doppelgänger takes a mercenary path to financial reward much to the distaste of the chairman. Complete confusion arises with the original Harold becoming severely depressed, even consulting a psychiatrist to resolve the situation. Incidentally, the psychiatrist is played by Freddie Jones in his usual over the top manner. We begin to learn that this is not all a figment of the imagination because the other Harold is an action when the original is incapacitated. Everything then drives to a confrontation between the two men, opposites colliding with each other in a dramatic conclusion to the events.
Overall, this is a very good performance by Roger Moore, made at a time between ‘The Saint’ and ‘James Bond’. It is a polished performance which brings out his acting abilities, giving him a chance to show what he can do with the right script. Raising of eyebrows kept to a minimum! I can remember watching ‘Ivanhoe’ as a child which inspired us to make armour out of old tin cans and swords from wood and, in later years, I thought his rendition of James Bond was the best. Now in his 80s, he can look back on a long and varied acting career.
What makes this Blu-ray extra special is its sheer quality. Despite being made in 1970, it has been re-mastered to perfection. You wouldn’t think that it’s over 40 years old. It’s also fun to watch London as it used to be before the skyscrapers were built and the land was changed forever. You see vehicles which are now vintage and people now extinct, such as the bowler hat and umbrella brigade exemplified by Harold in this movie. It also comes with lots of meaty extras, the best of which is a commentary involving Roger. There’s also the original score music, all 30 minutes of it, by Michael J. Lewis, theatrical trailers, lots of pictures and some material on PDF. You are certainly not being left out when it comes to extras!
‘The Man Who Haunted Himself’ is an excellent movie in all respects and it is well worth watching, especially in the Blu-ray format. You can see much more than that.
(Region 2: pub: Network B00BEIWV18. 1 DVD 90 minute black and white film. Price: £13.25 (UK)
cast: Roger Moore, Hildegarde Neil, Olga Georges-Picot, Anton Rodgers and Kevork Malikyan
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