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 ...
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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 »
"The Spiral Road" has stuck in my memory ever since I saw it on TV decades ago, and I have always wanted to see it uncut and widescreen. The supporting roles are uniformly good: especially Gena Rowlands, in confident and alluring form as the sophisticated Els (and still turning in moving performances as of 2005's "The Notebook"). But this is largely a two-man vehicle for Burl Ives and Rock Hudson--and especially in the concluding scenes, nearly a one-man tour-de-force for Hudson. This is not the shallow handsome-guy Rock often had to play. He makes the most of the chance to display depth and intensity as the arrogant, atheistic city doctor who comes to the jungle with scorn for the locals, and especially for missionaries. Burl Ives shows neither the sentimental cuteness of "Frosty the Snowman" nor the over-the-top bombast of Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"--his Dr. Jansen is kind and realistic, a savvy jungle survivor and a practical mentor. Notably, for a film with a clear eye toward colonialist excesses, missionaries are not stereotyped here, but we see examples of both self-righteous culture-tramplers and people of self-sacrificing faith. Ives delivers my favorite line: "Out here in the jungle, the Lord has a way of sorta putting his thumb on people that don't believe in him."
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