Friday, July 29, 2011

Patricia Neal & Nicholas Clay in The Road Builder (1971)

Maura Prince (Neal) lives with her mother (Pamela Brown) in a decrepit old mansion, among the remains of their former wealth. Her mother is blind and dependent on her, but she has been cowed into submission by her mother's domineering will. Into this dynamic comes a strange young man (Clay). Billy is welcomed into the house by the mother against the wishes of Maura. Around the same time young, local women start to disappear. Though it seems that Maura's feelings are vindicated, it's too late for her - she's begun to fall in love with Billy. What will become of the two women living with this curious stranger?
This atmospheric film marks Neal's first after being nominated for The Subject Was Roses (1968). The screen play was penned by her husband, children's writer Roald Dahl. The plot has parallels to one of my favorite films, Now Voyager (1942), and is the first major film role for the beguiling Nicholas Clay, who you may remember as the as the charming Patrick Redfern in Evil Under the Sun (1982) or as Lancelot in Excalibur (1981).

Also known as The Night Digger, this film is recently available on DVD from the Warner Archive Collection. The trailer is above, uploaded to YouTube by DVDFilmFun.

Obscurity factor: 9 (limited release, buried as a tax write off by the studio, on DVD)


  1. I have never heard of this film, but any movie that involves the usually wonderful Roald Dahl and Nicholas Cay (and his unforgettably worn swimsuit in Evil under the Sun). I'm clicking over now to order my copy.

  2. Yes, Clay is very sexy - both in this film and Evil Under the Sun. I had to look twice to recognize him here. He's so much younger, thinner and shaggier than he is 11 years later in that swim suit.

  3. And score by Bernard Herrmann!!!!!