Given that The Amazing Mr Blunden is based (quite closely) on a novel by Antonia Barber which was first published as The Ghosts, the answer is pretty clear. Lionel Jeffries’ follow-up to The Railway Children may not be based on as well-known a story as its predecessor, but it’s an equally enjoyable family film, and deserves to be better known (as Mark Gatiss pointed out on The Film Programme not that long ago).
Laurence Naismith (the judge from The Persuaders, for those with long memories) is the Mr Blunden of the title whose amazing-ness doesn’t really become clear until the end of the story. There’s a solid troupe of young actors – Rosalyn Landor and Lynne Frederick, Garry Miller and Marc Granger – on whom the brunt of responsibility for the film rests, backed up by a virtually unrecognisable Diana Dors, Bond girl Madeline Smith (whose performance seems to be the basis for Nicola Bryant’s intensely irritating character in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol), and James Villiers. Graham Crowden almost steals the show – particularly at the very end in a closing credit sequence that has to be seen to be believed.
The production values are high, and there’s a fire sequence towards the end of the film that is very effective. The appearance of the ghosts themselves is suitably spectral but not too scary for young children – a fine line that the film consistently walks.
Verdict: A good transfer of an underrated movie and well worth a watch. 7/10