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Jacob's Ladder (1990)

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


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. Athough 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


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


Drama | Horror | Mystery


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dante's Inferno  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)


$26,118,851 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


All SFX were filmed live, with no post-production. For example, to achieve the famous 'shaking head' effect, director Adrian Lyne simply filmed the actor waving his head around (and keeping his shoulders and the rest of his body completely still) at 4fps, resulting in an incredibly fast and deeply disturbing motion when played back at the normal frame-rate of 24fps. See more »


Louis shouts out for "Jacob Stinger" at one point when he is demanding Jacob's release from hospital. See more »


Louis: Well, you've done it to yourself this time, haven't you?
Jacob Singer: Am I dying, Louie?
Louis: From a slipped disk? That'll be a first.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in New York at the Movies (2002) See more »


Written by James Brown (as J. Brown)
Published by Unichappell Music (BMI)
Performed by James Brown
Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Brilliant! On par with Kubrick!
26 July 2004 | by (Copenhagen, Denmark) – See all my reviews

Jacob's Ladder is a masterpiece. Nothing less.

It has a highly intelligent plot though not difficult or artsy and is void of cliches. It therefore confuses and aggravates many viewers and professional reviewers always wanting a standard has-it-all Hollywood outpouring.

It is so few films that leaves room for independent thoughts. Jacob's Ladder tumbles your mind the same way a dream of your own does. I have never felt this effect in a film so strong before. The images comes pouring in and your brain tries to make sense of it. Whenever you think you have a grasp it slides away again.

The brilliance of the progression of the story, twists and turns, and the final explanation, so obvious but elusive as real dreams are, makes it on par with the best of Kubrick.

73 of 93 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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