The Man Who Haunted Himself

The Man Who Haunted Himself. This was where my love for the Rover P5B started. I seem to remember watching this film with my parents at home in the 1970’s (probably not on the films release – I’d have been 2!). The combination of a staid but still somewhat dashing Roger Moore playing a successful businessman (Harold Pelham), a great storyline, some good acting, a wonderful car (the P5B. Oh, and a Lamborghini Islero, if you like that sort of thing :-)) all set in and around London kept me riveted to the end, and obviously left a major impression.

Warning! Reading further will spoil the plot if you haven’t seen the film yet. If you haven’t, then buy it below, watch it, then come back here!

The Man Who Haunted Himself is generally considered (by Mr Moore himself, amongst many others) as one of his better films, despite being a relatively low-budget affair which wasn’t publicised effectively. Some of the special affects, especially when Pelham meets himself, are very well done for their time, especially when he walks behind himself in the hallway of his house – an example of Rotoscoping which was quite advanced for it’s time. The final car crash scenes are well done as well (filmed on Richmond-Upon-Thames bridge I believe).

The film was directed by Basil Dearden. This was to be his last film – in a strange twist of fate he died on 23 March 1971, in a road accident on the M4 motorway near Heathrow Airport, exactly the same stretch of motorway where Roger Moore crashes his P5B in the film. The music was composed by Michael J. Lewis (see below for links to buy these). I particularly like the opening credit music – very period. The film was released in 1970, and is based on the novel The Strange Case of Mr Pelham by Anthony Armstrong.

The original storybooks of the movie, from the planning stage, are included on the DVD. Interestingly, Pelham is shown driving a Rover P6 in them. Obviously at some point the Director decided that the P6 was far too modern and thrusting for Harold Pelham, and that the P5B would better reflect his slightly staid and ‘old-world’ character, vs. his alter-ego who drives a Lamborghini Islero. Quite a contrast indeed.

You can read more about The Man Who Haunted Himself on imdb or Wikipedia. There are numerous other interesting websites about the film as well: one of the best is Reel Streets where people find film locations and photograph them in their current state. You’ll see that a number of the locations including Mr. Pelham’s house and Geo F. Trumpers shop in Curzon Street are still there and are remarkably unchanged in the intervening 40-off years, even down to the railings and name plates.

imdb lists some of the locations where the film was shot.

Should you want information on the suit Roger Moore wears through most of the film, there’s the excellent The Suits of James Bond website, which explains “The suit is a traditional 3-piece charcoal pinstripe worsted with a 3-button jacket, and it’s cut with a draped chest, suppressed waist and soft shoulders with roped sleeveheads. The jacket has 4-button cuffs, flapped pockets and a single vent. By this time (1970), the Savile Row standard rear for a suit jacket was the double vent, though single vents were still more traditional for single-breasted jackets. Moore’s regular tailor Cyril Castle most likely tailored this suit.”

Continuity in the film wasn’t a strong-point. You can see there were two different P5B’s with ‘old’ and ‘new’ style number plates, and the film switches between the two fairly often! But these were different times with different production values (and budgets), and it in no way spoils the film.

There may be other sites with interesting information on the film – I’ll add any I find. I have this vague notion of taking my P5B to some of the locations and trying to recreate the scenes – well it would amuse me – but we’ll see how that goes. Yes, mine is the wrong colour and a Coupe, but it would be interesting all the same.

If you have any sites or references to The Man Who Haunted Himself, please leave a comment or get in touch.


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Stills of the P5B:

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