Color, 1970, 94 mins. 10 secs.
Directed by Basil Dearden
Starring Roger Moore, Hildegard Neil, Alastair Mackenzie, Hugh Mackenzie, Kevork Malikyan, Thorley Walters, Olga Georges-Picot
Kino Lorber (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC), Network (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK RB/R2 HD/PAL), Universal (DVD) (The Netherlands R2 PAL), Anchor Bay (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.75:1) (16:9)

A The Man Who Haunted Himselftough film to sell The Man Who Haunted Himselfwhen it came out and a quiet little cult item ever since, The Man Who Haunted Himself is part of a strain of fascinating films made by Roger Moore in the '70s parallel to his gig as the third actor to inherit the big screen mantle of James Bond. Though it possesses supernatural elements and flirts with being either a thriller or a horror film, this final project for director Basil Dearden (one of the best to come out of the Ealing Studios stable) is best described as a paranoid mindbender with a sensibility all its own.

Based on 1940 novel The Strange Case of Mr. Pelham by Anthony Armstrong (previously filmed twice including an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents with Tom Ewell), this tale chronicles the nightmarish experiences of Harold Pelham (Moore), a businessman whose sunny ride home from the office one day takes a turn when he's seized by a strange impulse and, thinking he's driving a swanky sports car, nearly dies in a terrible crash. He's brought back from the brink at the hospital, where he briefly shows a double heartbeat as he regains consciousness. After taking some time away to recuperate, he's alarmed upon resuming his normal routine to find The Man Who Haunted Himselfout that someone who looks exactly like him has been engaging in very atypical behavior in his absence including what appears to be an affair with the exotic The Man Who Haunted HimselfJulie (Georges-Picot), something that won't sit well with his wife, Eve (Neil). He decides to seek help from a psychiatrist (The Elephant Man's Jones at his most flamboyant), but he must eventually face up to the fact that an identical stranger is out there with no sign of going away.

Thankfully it becomes clear early on that this isn't another routine "it's all in his head" story, a tactic that allows Moore to stretch himself as an actor and deliver a jittery, effective performance that's more than just a time killer in between his TV gigs on The Saint and The Persuaders. This would also turn out to be the unintended swan song for Dearden, who eerily enough died in a car crash the following year after directing Moore again in three Persuaders episodes. Still underrated, he first made a splash helming portions of the classic horror anthology Dead of Night (including its chilling framing story) and racked up an impressive number of solid films including Victim, The Blue Lamp, The Mindbenders, Frieda, and Woman of Straw. His strong visual style with a focus on clear, vivid photography and sparing but jolting splashes of expressionism is all over this film, with the psychedelic finale in particular ranking up there in his list of achievements along with some clever bits of dramatic blocking (especially between Moore and Jones). Not to be overlooked is the strong music score by Michael J. Lewis (Theater of Blood, The Unseen), who had just made a splash with his debut score for The Madwoman of Chaillot; that film had been helmed by Bryan Forbes, this film's uncredited The Man Who Haunted Himselfco-writer and directing manager of its production company, the ambitious EMI Films. The Man Who Haunted Himself

A staple on TV throughout the '80s, The Man Who Haunted Himself made its first appearance on DVD in 2002 from Anchor Bay complete with a solid anamorphic transfer and a priceless audio commentary with Moore (his first, though not his last) and Forbes, both now sadly no longer with us. Moderated by Jonathan Sothcott, it's a very informative and entertaining chat as they discuss Dearden in great detail, Moore's fondness for the film (citing it as his favorite role), and the marketing challenges they faced that may have been responsible for its neglect at the box office. The film made its Blu-ray bow in 2013 from Network in the U.K., featuring a new HD restoration provided by Studio Canal; it looks gorgeous with an impressive level of detail and healthy, accurate colors throughout. Also on the U.K. disc are a music suite of score highlights (36m8s), the commentary, the British trailer, an image gallery, a marketing materials gallery, a portrait and promotional gallery, and storyboards, plus pdfs of the press kit and two pressbooks. In 2019, Kino Lorber brought the film to U.S. Blu-ray and DVD with a new edition carrying over the audio commentary, trailer (SD here versus the HD one on the U.K.), and an appreciation of the film (18m7s) by Joe Dante and Stuart Gordon originally included on the Dutch DVD. The transfer is from the same scan as the U.K. edition, though it looks a shade brighter with more detail visible in some of the darker background areas throughout. (See comparisons below.) The DTS-HD MA English mono audio (with optional English subtitles) is also in excellent shape, and bonus Roger Moore trailers are also included for The Naked Face, Street People, and Gold.

Kino Lorber (Blu-ray)

The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself

Network (Blu-ray)

The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself The The Man Who Haunted Himself

Reviewed on April 21, 2019.