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The Road Builder (1971)
"The Night Digger" (original title)

 -  Drama | Horror | Thriller  -  12 May 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 466 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 13 critic

Effective psychological love story with a macabre twist not found in the original Joy Cowley novel. The dreary existence of middle- aged spinster Maura Prince takes an unexpected turn with ... See full summary »



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Title: The Road Builder (1971)

The Road Builder (1971) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maura Prince
Pamela Brown ...
Mrs. Edith Prince - Mother
Nicholas Clay ...
Billy Jarvis
Jean Anderson ...
Mrs. Millicent McMurtrey
Mr. Bolton
Yootha Joyce ...
Mrs. Palafox
Reverend Rupert Palafox
Brigit Forsyth ...
District Nurse
Sebastian Breaks ...
Dr. Ronnie Robinson
Diana Patrick ...
Mary Wingate
Jenny McCracken ...
Jenny - Farmwife
Bruce Myles ...
Bank Clerk
Zoe Alexander ...
Stroke Patient
Christopher Reynalds ...
Young Billy
Elaine Ives-Cameron ...


Effective psychological love story with a macabre twist not found in the original Joy Cowley novel. The dreary existence of middle- aged spinster Maura Prince takes an unexpected turn with the arrival of young handyman Billy Jarvis, but there is more to Billy than meets the eye. This well-crafted film, full of sexual tension and Gothic flavor, was Patricia Neal's second after her return to acting, her real-life stroke worked deftly into the story by then-husband Roald Dahl. Written by Shane Pitkin <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A lonely woman in a decaying mansion... A young stranger on a big, black bike. See more »


Drama | Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 May 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Night Digger  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The original length of the film was 110 minutes. Bernard Herrmann composed his score for 110 minutes version. But about 13 minutes were cut right before the film's official release. So some of Bernard Herrmann's cues didn't end up in the film. In the released version (97 - 98 minutes), small portions of Herrmann's cue close to the end of the film was accidentally edited out. Some of Herrmann's cues that he composed for certain scenes in the released version didn't end up in the released cut. One of the unused cues was a cue for the scene where the nurse walks back and enters into her car. See more »

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User Reviews

A pretty and fine made movie!
21 August 2007 | by (Netherlands) – See all my reviews

I have seen this film last week on TV. I am glad that the there are English subtitles so that I can clearly enjoy the dialogue. Only it is pity that the English subtitles from TCM are kind of closed captions that cannot be taken for recording.

Different than the comment of another Dutch viewer from 2006, I find this film a rather nice good movie. The maker has put quite some different (thrilling, creeping, emotional, romantic) components to the movie, but not into deep touch by purpose. If one is specially looking for or fond of a particular type of movie from one of these components, one may not feel satisfied enough. However I am glad that the maker had made it in this way that the movie content becomes "rich" in a special way. It makes the film as a whole quiet thrilling, creeping, emotional and even bit romantic too. It is not boring at all, I enjoy every moment of the movie. Making a film to a particular type/direction of course is a heavy job but to combine different type of components in a fine way is not easy too.

The film is quite moving that I have only realized at the end that it is already a film of 110 minutes. It is not boring at all, I have enjoyed every moment of the movie. Yes, this is not a film made for award nomination, but both the director and the leading actors have done a pretty good job. If you watch the film carefully you will realize that the film is quite fine made. From their fine work, you can see and feel the style of the early 70's British films. It is a small budget production, but still leaves some compelling moonshine. I simply like this movie.

The ending indeed is quite a critical way. I have never read the novel. I don't know whether the end is the same as the movie. I wonder if the director has extended and refined the ending for about 10 minutes more, will the ending be then a bit better than a shortcut? On the other hand, I have the feeling that it seems that the director has deliberately made the ending in this stunning way that it now leaves us crossing feelings and questions that makes the movie still time to time staying on our mind.

It may not be a top A-film, but it is a little gem which absolutely is worthing to see.

I give it 7.75 out of 10.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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