7.5/10
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352 user 111 critic

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death.

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2,774 ( 216)

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ON DISC
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Anthony Alessandro ...
Rod
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Hospital Receptionist
Doug Barron ...
Group Leader
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Storyline

New York postal worker Jacob Singer is trying to keep his frayed life from unraveling. His days are increasingly being invaded by flashbacks to his first marriage, his now-dead son, and his tour of duty in Vietnam. Although his new wife tries to help Jacob keep his grip on sanity, the line between reality and delusion is steadily growing more and more uncertain. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most frightening thing about Jacob Singer's nightmare is that he isn't dreaming.

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dante's Inferno  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$7,500,760 (USA) (4 November 1990)

Gross:

$26,118,851 (USA)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Jacob Singer unfolds an old Army discharge certificate, the service number "US 21 719 365" can briefly be seen. This would correspond to a National Guard service number with a prefix indicating follow-on conscription into the Army of the United States. According to U.S Army records, the service number seen in the film was assigned to a soldier named Thomas K. Wright, who served from 1959 to 1961 with discharge as a Specialist-4 (paygrade E4). Thomas Wright would later become the property master for the film Jacob's Ladder, using his own service number for the scene where the discharge certificate is briefly visible on camera. See more »

Goofs

To match the direction of movement, a shot of the Ford LTD racing around a corner has been flopped, but the license plate, which is now in reverse, is visible. See more »

Quotes

Michael: I'd only been in jail 13 hours, I thought 'Nam couldn't be any worse.
Jacob Singer: Shows how little you knew.
Michael: Yeah, really.
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Crazy Credits

The credits roll over a grainy black and white photo of Gabe and Jacob crossing the street together. See more »

Connections

Remade as Jacob's Ladder (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

WHAT'S GOING ON
Written by Renaldo Benson (as R. Benson) / Al Cleveland (as A. Cleveland) / Marvin Gaye (as M. Gaye)
Published by Jobete Music Co., Inc. (ASCAP) / Stone Agate Music (BMI)
Performed by Marvin Gaye
Courtesy of Motown Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Way before Shyamalan came on board, Adrian Lyne had blown the collective consciousness!
9 October 2003 | by (Longmont, Colorado) – See all my reviews

One "reviewer" here wrote (I presume) in all seriousness "Like a bad dream - impossible to understand!" That being the case, I can only describe his subsequent attempt to compile a review as "gutsy" in the extreme.

I believe JACOB'S LADDER is one of the 10 best films ever made. It is NOT impossible to understand...you merely have to listen and interpret! For those without the ability to effect the latter...just listen! Danny Aiello's character, Louis the chiropracter lays it out for you - word for word. I think it is the best part Aiello ever had, small one though it is in terms of screen time. Integral to a collective grasp of this great and disturbing film however is the need to tie-in the relationship between Jacob the individual, the biblical "Jacob's Ladder" itself and the relevance of "The Ladder" as explained (and seemingly forgotten by most everybody) by the runty chemical weapons boffin at the near conclusion of the film.

To those who view the ending as "rushed," "unsatisfying," "obscure" even "dumb" as I recall, I would merely suggest you watch it again and take into account the likelihood is, that it is in fact YOU that has missed what has been so cleverly set out for you. SIGNS was equally misunderstood by the majority of people that even liked it - there never WERE any aliens!

JACOB'S LADDER is Robbins' greatest film - Lyne's too. The last few minutes are amongst the most emotional and uplifting scenes I have ever seen since the "star child" in 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY. Culkin was the perfect choice!

I saw this movie in a near deserted theater in Times Square the week it came out. At the conclusion of this particular late show I noticed an old man sitting some two rows away to my left, absorbed in his thoughts. Having to walk past him to gain the exit I noticed tears in his eyes. He looked up as I approached. After studying me for a moment all he said to me was "You understood didn't you?" I said, "Yes I understood!" He replied softly..."You're very lucky!"


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