The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) is, without doubt, my favourite Roger Moore movie. In fact, not only is it my all time favourite Roger Moore movie, but I would even go as far as to say that it is one of the BEST supernatural/thriller movies I have ever seen in my whole life.
Based on Anthony Armstrong’s 1957 novel The Strange Case of Mr Pelham (which was also adapted as an episode for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series in 1955), The Man Who Haunted Himself tells the story of businessman Harold Pelham (Roger Moore) who, after recovering in hospital from a near-fatal car accident, starts to experience strange things in his daily life. Colleagues start claiming to have seen Pelham in various places, when in actual fact he himself was not there. As these reports of Pel-spotting continue to grow and grow, Pelham naturally becomes more puzzled and concerned, as he vehemently goes on insisting that he was never at the locations where his colleagues claim that not only did they see him, but that they actually conversed with him too. And that is where the whole strangeness starts to become a living nightmare, culminating in Pelham being driven to a complete breakdown.
The Man Who Haunted Himself is a fantastic doppelganger/ghost story that really has you on the edge of your seat, and keeps you guessing right up to the very end. In some ways, it is kind of reminiscent of a Twilight Zone type of tale. And the climax – where Pelham finally confronts the sinister object of all his anxiety and distress – is one of the most stunning, gripping ones I have ever seen in a supernatural movie. And it’s the sort of amibiguous ending that really leaves you wondering if good really did triumph over evil. Personally, I’d like to think it did – especially after all the ineffable mental torment that poor old Pel sufferered throughout the movie – but of course, other people may draw their own conclusions as to what really happened at the climax.
Another aspect of the movie that I love is the psychiatrist character played by Freddie Jones. With his mad scientist hair, dark glasses and theatrical mannerisms, he adds an enjoyably quirky, lighter touch to the proceedings, providing a short break from an otherwise ominous, disturbing and oppresive atmosphere. This scene where Pelham consults this seemingly-as-batty-as-his-patients shrink always makes me smile whenever I watch it.
Being the consummate actor that he is, Roger Moore does a brilliant job in portraying the suave, debonair Harold Pelham as his whole world is turned upside down, and he gradually descends into a hellish whirlpool of torment, anger and neurosis. Exhibiting a complete change of type from the sort of self-assured, stoic characters we are used to seeing Moore play – like Simon Templar of The Saint and James Bond – the man should have won an Oscar for his role in this fantastic movie.
If you have never seen The Man Who Haunted Himself, then I suggest you treat yourself to a copy of this gem of a movie, which is now available on Blu Ray. I have had the old DVD copy for quite a few years now, and so once I heard you could get it on Blu Ray, well, I am certainly going to upgrade.
The Man Who Haunted Himself has that rare, special kind of quality that you can revisit it again and again, and never fail to enjoy it as much as you did when you watched it the first time. There certainly aren’t many movies you can say that about, are there?
Like many fans of this movie, I will be forever grateful to the now sadly deceased Sir Roger Moore for giving me such an utterly engrossing, gripping and enjoyable movie. A film that I will always treasure in my collection. God bless you, Sir.
You can buy The Man Who Haunted Himself by clicking on the image link below.