Mondo Esoterica Mini-Reviews

Mr. Humphreys and his Inheritance (1975)

 An interesting, short television adaptation of a M.R. James ghost story. Included on the Network R2 Casting the Runes DVD.

The Film in brief:

Storyline SummaryMr. Humphreys is an academic, who unexpectedly inherits a large country house and fortune from an Uncle he never met. Moving into the house he is fascinated by a maze in the garden, built by an ancestor, and to which his Uncle had never allowed visitors to tread. Exploring the maze Mr. Humphreys discovers a mysterious globe in the centre...
CommentaryThis M.R. James adaptation was made, not to scare, but to educate - it was shot as part of the Yorkshire television series Music Scene, intended for school children, and in this episode illustrating how music could be used to create different moods on the screen.

The story itself runs to about 16 minutes and is an adaptation of the M.R. James story of the same name published in 1911. The script, by an uncredited writer does a good job of compressing the original short story down into this very abbreviated form, merging a variety of characters into a single figure (his butler, Mr Cooper) and retaining James' commentaries as an occasional voice-over narration that really helps to set the scene, with many passages quoted directly from the text.

Considering its origins the production is surprisingly impressive, going as far as to put up a 'Wilsthorpe' name board at the railway station in the opening, as per the story, and achieving a good period costume atmosphere throughout. The occasional special effects are very well realised and the direction is generally good, although the all important musical score is a little similar all the way through. 
Anyone famous in it? The main role is well played by Geoffrey Russell - a British television actor who appeared in the BBC's Silver Chair (1990) Narnia story. 


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 1.33:1 full-screen. Colour.
The image is decent with little damage and good colours, although very grainy.
Audio English mono, sounds fine.
Subtitles None.
Availability Only available on the Network UK Casting the Runes DVD (released 3rd September 2007).
Other regions? Not available elsewhere.
Cuts? This is believed to be fully uncut. It includes the original Music Scene title sequence, and an introduction from the composer.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 21st August 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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