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Classic children's ghost story, adapted by Lionel Jeffries from Antonia Barber's The Ghosts.
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In Camden Town, 1918, Mrs. Allen and her three children, Lucy, James and baby Benjamin, are met by the mysterious Mr. Blunden, a kindly but mysterious old man who offers them a caretaker's job at a burnt-down old mansion. Upon their arrival, Lucy and James encounter two children, around their own age, who may or may not be ghosts. And just what do they have to do with the mysterious, and amazing, Mr. Blunden?


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This story provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: The junior partner, Smith, is absent from the film, and his appearance at the end is given to Mr. Clutterbuck.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Several, some minor; but the largest is the snobbish Georgie in the book who is dismisses Jamie as a silly ghost when Jamie tries to keep him quiet when spying on the adults and who criticises almost every character at some point. In the film, he is little more than an lovable, if easily cross, scamp.
    • Mr Wickens, whilst Dumb Muscle in both; speaks in the book and seems to be genuinely unpleasant whilst the film version is clearly mentally ill andd only speaks (or mumbles) coherently once in the whole fil.
    • Mr. Blunden himself seems a lot more confident in the film, though still guilt-stricken, he does not seem nearly as morose when offering the Allens a job and gleefully wishes Lucy and Jamie a happy Christmas.
  • The Alcoholic: Mrs. Wickens, Bertie. In the original book, Mr. Wickens is too.
  • Amoral Attorney: The original Mr. Blunden.
  • Arc Words: "We three Kings of Orient Are..."
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Blunden and Bertie in the original timeline.
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  • Brainless Beauty: Bella Wickens.
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted, Georgie refuses to test the potentially poisonous potion on Mrs Wickenses' cat because it hasnt done them any harm.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: In the book, after his death Mr. Blunden takes Jamie to a spectral court, where it is judged whether his striking from the legal register should be reversed.
  • Composite Character: The film combines the secretary Mr. Clutterbuck, who appears when the Allens come about the job, with the junior partner Mr. Smith, who arrives to inform Mrs. Allen of her inheritance. In the film, Smith is only mentioned.
  • Dead Person Conversation
  • Disappeared Dad: Mr. Allen has died in a car crash/during the war (in the book and film respectively) sometime before the story, as have Sara and Georgie's parents.
  • Dumb Muscle: Mr. Wickens.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The Wickenses, Mr. Wickens' mental problem is soon set-up when a patron of the pub taps on a glass (reminding him of the boxing bell) whilst Mrs Wickens reigns him in with a few sharp punches.
  • Foreshadowing: James sees a lot of himself in Sara, even describing it as like looking into a reflection.
  • Ghostly Goals: Sara and Georgie want to escape from their evil guardians whilst Mr Blunden wants to make it up for allowing the children to die in the first place.
  • Handsome Lech: Bertie.
  • Haunted House: Although one of the "ghosts" doesn't realise they're dead...
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mr. Blunden has spent the past 100 years attempting this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mr. Blunden dies to save Georgie and Jamie.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Sara tries to see the best in everyone, holding affection for her Uncle Bertie and the Spoiled Sweet Bella ,has a friendship and later marries the lower-class stableboy Tom, and continues to write to Georgie after their estrangement. Any scorn is reserved for Mrs. Wickens.
  • Invisibleto Adults: All the ghosts. Bella can see them as apparitions because she has the mind of a child.
  • Karmic Death: The Wickenses die in their attempt to kill the children.
  • Large Ham: Mrs Wickens.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Pensieve Flashback: Most of the finale.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Poor Mr. Wickens. He's not evil by nature, but brain damaged from his days as the boxer "Wrecker" Wickens. In the book, he is much more villainous, and actually speaks on occasion, instead of just grunting.
  • The Scrooge: The original Mr. Blunden.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong
  • Stable Time Loop: By saving the children in the past, Lucy and Jamie unwittingly save their own ancestors.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Mr. Blunden's good at these.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lucy contemplates Bella and Bertie's eventual fates in the book. In the film Bella almost certainly dies, but that still leaves Bertie.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Wickenses, oh so much.

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