An arrogant young doctor helps an eccentric older doctor care for natives in the Dutch West Indies circa 1936. Challenged by love, leprosy and black magic, he undergoes a series of ordeals ...
See full summary »
Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
Brendan O'Malley arrives at the Mexican home of old flame Belle Breckenridge to find her married to a drunkard getting ready for a cattle drive to Texas. Hot on O'Malley's heels is lawman ... See full summary »
Roger Willoughby is considered to be a leading expert on sports fishing. He's written books on the subject and is loved by his customers in the sporting goods department at Abercrombie and ... See full summary »
In 1931, Elizabeth Rambeau comes from England to live in California with her aunt and uncle of a winemaking dynasty, who are still wealthy despite 12 years of Prohibition. Object: marriage ... See full summary »
In London, stuffy statesman Carter Harrison meets Toni, a Bohemian artist with a hot Italian temper. The two impulsively marry and then find that they disagree on everything. Shortly ... See full summary »
The sailing vessel Cannibal has a leaking hull. The captain (Rock Hudson) reluctantly changes course for Honolulu, where one passenger (Cyd Charisse) is wanted by the law. The water rising, everyone struggles against nature to survive.
An arrogant young doctor helps an eccentric older doctor care for natives in the Dutch West Indies circa 1936. Challenged by love, leprosy and black magic, he undergoes a series of ordeals on a spiritual journey through the jungles of Java. Written by
Gary R. Peterson
The Spiral Road contains the origin for the opening of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969). Rock Hudson wanders aimlessly through the jungle confused to his identity, while his beard grows long and his clothes wind up in tatters. Finally he comes to a clearing where there is a pool. He sees his reflection and exclaims, "It's..." But instead of an offstage voice saying Monty Python's Flying Circus, he just says, "It's... me!". See more »
After I finished watching "The Spiral Road" -regretting that the failed end product had been directed by Robert Mulligan, the same man who did "To Kill a Mockingbird"- I was surprised to know that both films were released the same year. After both, Mulligan (a long time associate of Alan J. Pakula) started a chain of fine motion pictures, with favorites as "Love with the Proper Stranger", "Up the Down Staircase", "Summer of '42", "The Other" and "The Man in the Moon". But something went wrong in "The Spiral Road", and I believe it has to do mostly with the screenplay by John Lee Mahin and Neil Paterson. Everything seems okay in the first 90 minutes or so: I thought the story was in the lines of the Mexican film "Amok" ( based on a novel by Stefan Zweig) and the Argentinean real-life account "Houses of Fire", in which doctors fight in faraway places against strange diseases; and it also reminded me of "Gorillas in the Mist" or "Never Cry Wolf", which were based on fact. Here Rock Hudson plays Dutch doctor Anton Drager who convinces the head of the colonial health service in Batavia to assign him to a leper colony ruled by bright scientist Brits Jansen (Burl Ives), a man who might have made great advances in the study of leprosy, but who has neither ordered, compiled nor published his findings. Hudson brings conviction to the role of a man whose upbringing by a religious father has turned him into a nihilistic cynic, a rude and opportunistic scientist. Then the character of Els (Gena Rowlands) is introduced, things start to shake. It's a pity because it has nothing to do with the 1930s character or with Rowlands, who is good as usual. It is just the turning point when things begin to go bad. An endless sequence portraying the "decadence" of Dutch colonialists in a party (it's been reported that "Mulligan filmed it in Suriname with old colonial Dutch types, who were very mad when the film was released, because he had fooled them into re-enacting a colonial party") is followed by the introduction of a dwarf as comic relief. Soon Drager and Jansen disagree, argue and separate, the former starts to drink, and the third act turns into an embarrassingly silly and kilometric search for spirituality. Somebody must have told Mulligan or the adapters of Jan de Hartog's novel, that filming the spirit or the spiritual life is no easy task, and that capturing its search on film stock, a privilege reserved to a few: Dreyer, Rossellini, Bergman, Tarkovsky, among the prominent... But works as Fleming's "Joan of Arc", King's "The Song of Bernadette", Rook's "Siddharta", Zeffirelli's "Brother Sun, Sister Moon", Jewison's "Agnes of God", or Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" are failed intents. While Drager goes in circles in the jungle, Jansen disappears from the film, and his place is taken by a evil witch doctor, played by Reggie Nalder, whom I wrongly thought that I had seen doing all, from Hitchcockian assassin to green vampire. Then the film ends abruptly after Drager experiences a "moment of illumination" (as reported, mocked by Monty Python) in the spiral road to spirituality. A real shame, because for Universal-International (which I remember that in those days was perceived as the corny studio) it meant a serious super-production, and it shows. Take also note of Jerry Goldsmith's score: if Bernard Herrmann borrowed in 1946 a few notes from traditional music of the Pacific for his "Anna and the King of Siam" score, then Goldsmith chose the same. If not, Goldsmith seems to have lifted Herrmann's main theme.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?