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

 -  Drama | Horror | Thriller  -  12 May 1971 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 504 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 14 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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Cast

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 ...
Gypsy
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Storyline

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 <be50006@binghamton.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 May 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Az ásós gyilkos  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

 
Excellent psychological thriller
6 March 2008 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

The Road Builder is sadly not very well known, and that's a shame because this psychological thriller is a real gem and would certainly benefit from being more widely seen. The film is based on a book by Joy Cowley, although there were apparently some changes made to the story (I don't know what since I've not read the book). One of the more surprising things about this film is the fact that the screenplay was written by popular children's author Roald Dahl, although clearly he did also have a taste for the macabre if Tales of the Unexpected as well as his children's book 'The Witches' are anything to go by. The film is a strange love story at heart and we focus on a house inhabited by an old spinster and her middle aged daughter Maura. Their lives are changed one day when a young stranger on a motorbike turns up and they agree to let him stay. The young man becomes a popular figure in the house rather quickly, especially with Maura. However, there's something strange about him as evidenced by his sudden bursts of depression, apparently owing to the tragic death of his parents.

Most of the plot takes place in a grandiose mansion and it makes for a really good location for the movie - it's very isolated and is nice to look at. The atmosphere is very good throughout and this excellently compliments the plot which is thoroughly dark and largely unpleasant. The plot doesn't move particularly quickly, but it's always interesting thanks to the way that the characters are built up progressively and director Alastair Reid focuses on their relationship with one another. The acting is very good and the film stars Roald Dahl's then wife Patricia Neal in the lead role. She gets on well with the other two main players, Pamela Brown and Nicholas Clay and these actors help to ensure that the film works well. There's not a great deal of shocking moments, but the way that the unpleasant happenings are handled works very well as it's nasty yet completely believable. It all boils down to a very good ending and The Road Builder is certainly a film with a 'sting in the tail'. Overall, I really hope this gets a decent release soon because it's a great thriller and well worth seeing!


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