The Okay Mr. Blunden
"The Amazing Mr. Blunden" is one of those movies from the 70s which hold a nostalgic charm for those who watched it as a child but can leave others a bit bemused. I am in with the others because having never watched "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" as a child I find myself watching it for the first time 40 years after it was released and feeling a little under whelmed. It's most certainly an interesting prospect of a movie which not only features ghosts but also time travel but unfortunately it never quite captures my attention or my imagination.
Having been forced in to moving to a tiny place, Mrs. Allen and her children Jamie, Lucy and baby Benjamin are paid a visit by the mysterious Mr. Blunden who represents a firm of solicitors that have a large property which they would like Mrs. Allen to care take. But this is no ordinary place as Jamie and Lucy discover when they are approached by the ghosts of two children, Sara and George who tell them how they come to be ghosts thanks to a horrendous fire and the evil Mrs. Wickens who wanted to kill them. But Sara and George also show Jamie and Lucy how to make a time travel potion allowing them to return to the past and before the fire.
One of the problems with "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" especially watching it now is that it takes a surprising amount of time to get to the crux of the story. We go through the visually beautiful opening of the mysterious Mr. Blunden, a curious scene at the solicitors, more curious scenes before we even get to the point where Jamie and Lucy are met with the ghostly figures of Sara and George. Then for well over half the movie we get back story as to how Sara and George ended up as orphans with their Uncle & Mr Blunden as guardians as well as Mrs. Wickens as housekeeper. Eventually it does reveal its purpose when we learn of the time travel potion and the fact that Sara and George were killed but it does take an age to get there.
The annoying things about this is that "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" is a nicely put together movie with some brilliant writing which delivers something akin to black comedy but for children. It is full of witty lines and narration none more so when we the narrator informs us that Uncle Bertie met Bella at the ballet when in truth we see that she was a back street showgirl. But unfortunately despite so much clever writing because it lacks a sense of urgency it feels far too often like it is meandering. It is why I mentioned earlier that if you watched this as a child back in the 70s it probably still holds a lot of nostalgic charm but is a struggle when watched for the first time now.
But the thing which really impressed about "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" are the performances and especially those from the young cast. Rosalyn Landor, Marc Granger, Garry Miller and Lynne Frederick all deliver convincing performances with such a focus that they never once seem to be searching for lines but creating a scene as if they were play acting together. The young performances are not the only good ones and Diana Dors whilst unrecognizable as Mrs. Wickens does give us a wonderful pantomime style villain. And on that subject lets just say that "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" certainly ends up feeling like a pantomime where each of the characters appear on screen to say good bye when the credits begin to roll.
What this all boils down to is that "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" is an okay movie, it is too slow for me but is nicely put together with an original story and some nice performances. It is the sort of movie that if you watched as a child in the 70s it probably holds a lot of fond memories.