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A Warning to the Curious (1972)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, Horror  |  24 December 1972 (UK)
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An archeologist goes treasure hunting along the English coast in search of a lost, fabled crown that supposedly helps protect Great Britain against invasion.




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Complete credited cast:
Julian Herrington ...
John Kearney ...
Ager / Ghost
David Cargill ...
George Benson ...
Roger Milner ...
Antique Shop Owner (as Roger Millner)
Gilly Fraser ...
David Pugh ...
Cyril Appleton ...


An amateur archaeologist, Mr Paxton (Peter Vaughan), travels to the coastal Norfolk town of Seaburgh. His research has uncovered an old Anglo-Saxon legend telling of three fabled crowns that protect England from invasion. One is said to have been lost in a war, a second lost to the sea - but the third is thought to be hidden somewhere near Seaburgh. Paxton checks into a local inn where, despite the suspicions of the locals, he hears that another archaeologist searching for the crown was found dead more than a decade ago. His inquiries lead him to the grave of a local man, William Ager who was said to be the last of his line and a guardian of the crown. Paxton goes to search the woods near Ager's former home but his excavations will unearth something more than the fabled crown. Written by Mark_a_Wood <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Horror





Release Date:

24 December 1972 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Ghost Story for Christmas: A Warning to the Curious  »

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Featured in MR James: Ghost Writer (2013) See more »


Hyperion III
Music by Bruno Maderna
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User Reviews

Chilling ghost story
8 September 2008 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

Mr Paxton (Peter Vaughan) has been a clerk all his life with an amateurs enthusiasm for Archaelogy. So when his business goes bust, he decides to take up his passion full time. His first venture is secured after he finds an old book that mentions an old Anglo-Saxon legend of the three fabled crowns that protect England from invaders. The first two are reported to have been lost, one during a war and the second at sea, that leaves one hidden, its resting place rumoured to be in Norfolk near the town of Seaburg. On his arrival in the misty Seaburg, he checks in to the local Inn where he finds the locals are untrusting and suspicious of him, his inquiries lead to the grave of William Ager, who it is said was the protector of the last crown, who died twelve years previously decrying his sorrow that he was the last of the line of protectors and that England was now at risk. Paxton also finds out that there was another archaeologist killed nearby on just such a treasure hunt as he was embarking on, putting two and two together he believes Ager must have been the killer. His continuing detective work leads him to Ager's former home where he learns that Ager spent his nights in the nearby woods, working on instinct Paxton begins his dig here and soon finds his treasure, but this is where his problems being, as what he digs up gives him cause for grave concern and fears for his life from forces unknown…..Dum Dee Dum Dum Dummmm! Paxton entrusts his thoughts with the only other guest at the Inn, a Dr Black, he tells him he believes he is being followed by some spectral figures, that never seem to take the same shape, Is Paxton's paranoia well founded? Paxton believes that he must replace the treasure where he found it, in order to stop these visions apparitions and nightmares that plague his every moment.

In 1971 the BBC launched its periodic series of A Ghost Story for Christmas, to produce a one off film that would be screened each Christmas and based on Britain's most famous ghost story writer, M R James. A Warning to the Curious was the second of these adaptations that was first screened in 1972. Lawrence Gordon Clark was the brains behind the series, of which he directed the first 7 films, while also producing and writing the scripts, he managed to put his style firmly on these films and capture the very essence of James' writings in a visual format. Warning to the Curious is a slow burner that builds up its characters backgrounds before getting to the scares with Vaughn's understated performance being quite exemplary, the fear growing on his face by the moment. All of this is framed around an atmospherically set coastal town, drenched in mist and surrounded by barren marshes and stunning yet bleak horizons, that has echoes of that town from The Woman in Black(1989). The scenes in the woods are pretty tense too, as every rustle in the bushes sends a chill down the spine as Paxton with his back to the trees digs for his treasure. As its made for 70's TV, its production values are quite low and because of this and its leisurely pace it may not be for the modern horror fan, but for those of a certain age and a discerning eye for good ghost stories, this is hard to beat.

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