6.3/10
412
18 user 5 critic

The Spiral Road (1962)

In 1936, a Dutch physician who treats leprosy patients in the jungles of Indonesia has a dangerous run-in with a local witch-doctor who uses black magic to kill his enemies.

Director:

Robert Mulligan
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1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rock Hudson ... Dr. Anton Drager
Burl Ives ... Dr. Brits Jansen
Gena Rowlands ... Els
Geoffrey Keen ... Willem Wattereus
Neva Patterson ... Louise Kramer
Will Kuluva ... Dr. Sordjano
Philip Abbott ... Frolick
Larry Gates ... Dr. Kramer
Karl Swenson ... Insp. Bevers
Edgar Stehli Edgar Stehli ... The Sultan
Judy Dan Judy Dan ... Laja
Robert F. Simon ... Dr. Martens
Ibrahim Pendek Ibrahim Pendek ... Stegomyia (as Ibrahim Bin Hassan)
Reggie Nalder ... Burubi
Leon Lontoc ... Dr. Hatta
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Shattering Adventure That Boldly Explores the Jungles of the Heart!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

[All trivia items for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Dr. Brits Jansen: [to Dr. Drager] I'll bunk in with you. I snore like an elephant but that's your problem.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in 11-22-63: The Day the Nation Cried (1988) See more »

User Reviews

 
Superbly evocative of tropical colonialism.
17 September 2002 | by GooperSee all my reviews

This is a big picture, which deserves more exposure. In the early 60s Universal was more known for fluffball (but high quality) Doris Day product, but here they show their diversity by presenting what was obviously a prestige picture. Bob Mulligan, who scored a hit with 'To Kill a Mockingbird' in the same year, got to try his hand at an epic. The main titles are perfect to set the mood: youthful Jerry Goldsmith's talents as a composer are spectacular and atmospheric. He of course used gamelans in his score, but he uses them with concise effect, and without cliché. The graphics of the titles are very fine: colourful maps guide us in to a strange 'exotic' place. Such a relief from the sterile titles of today.

This film really made a big impression on me as a kid when I saw it on TV in the late 60s. 'Pan and scan' TV viewing had a definite mystique to it, as the process of squeezing anamorphic images into The Box automatically made the picture in question important. 'The Spiral Road' was no exception. But it IS important. I can imagine the grandeur of seeing it in a full-blown picture palace. Everything in the film is competently executed. I even remember the props, such as Rock's intriguing spherical fan on his bedside table.

The performances are excellent, reliable, and everyone really delivers. Burl Ives practically steals the show (as usual), and gets some good 'honeylamb' lines in. The aged Sultan is memorable. The fabulous Larry Gates, one of the greats, never disappoints. This role was a warm up for his deeper part as the missionary in 'The Sand Pebbles', a more profound companion to this picture.

'Lord Jim' of 1965 explores the same 'dark side of the jungle', only a century earlier. All three are outstanding examinations of the many dimensions of tropical and Asian colonialism, albeit from a Western viewpoint.

I agree that it's time this picture, and many more like it, was allowed into wider exposure via video/DVD. Vendors, take note!

PS: I just saw the DVD edition, and I was not disappointed. The picture holds up very well, though I would have wished for more Burl Ives in the last sequences. Russell Harlan's camera-work is outstanding, only matched by his work on 'Hawaii' a few years later.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 November 1962 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Am schwarzen Fluß See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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