Harold Pelham is a perfectly normal, run of the mill chap. But after a nearly-fatal car accident, it almost seems as if there are two of him…
Basil Dearden’s movie gives Roger Moore one of the few scripts in his career that really allow him to act. Made between The Saint and The Persuaders – and a couple of years before adopting the licence to kill – Moore relishes the chance to play a man who can’t believe what is happening to him and begins to suffer a severe nervous breakdown.
Moore is joined by a strong cast of stalwart British actors, with Hildegarde Neil (by kind permission of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the titles inform us) as his long-suffering wife. Anton Rodgers and Freddie Jones stand out, the latter perhaps not quite for the right reasons, since he adopts a rather odd accent and demeanour for his character.
The commentary, with Bryan Forbes and Moore, is highly informative – the story about Dearden’s premature death is related at a very appropriate point, and is almost as chilling as the film itself. Network have really done a fantastic job restoring the movie: the colours are stunning, and the music score is revealed in a glory that was lost in the previous DVD release.
It’s midway between a ghost story and a tale of possession, and there are some very sensible decisions about what is revealed when. It also doesn’t try to explain too much: the ending, in particular, can be read in many ways.
If you’re one of those people who believe Moore’s self-deprecation about his acting abilities (and yes, there are some awful episodes of The Saint, North Sea Hijack, and A View to a Kill to set in the balance against this), then you should definitely watch this.
Verdict: An often overlooked chiller that’s been restored beautifully. 8/10