|The Night Digger|
original film poster
|Directed by||Alastair Reid|
|Produced by||Alan D. Courtney|
|Screenplay by||Roald Dahl|
|Based on||Nest in a Fallen Tree|
by Joy Cowley
|Starring||Patricia Neal |
|Music by||Bernard Herrmann|
|Edited by||John Bloom|
The Night Digger is a 1971 British thriller film based on the novel Nest in a Fallen Tree by Joy Cowley about two women who are visited by a suspicious handy man. It was adapted by Roald Dahl and starred his then wife Patricia Neal. The Night Digger was the American title; it was originally released in the United Kingdom as The Road Builder.
In a decaying mansion on the outskirts of London, middle-aged spinster Maura Prince (Patricia Neal) lives a life of drudgery caring for her blind and domineering mother (Pamela Brown). Into their dysfunctional lives, a handsome stranger appears, riding on a motorbike and looking for work as a handyman. Young Billy Jarvis (Nicholas Clay) soon makes himself indispensable around the house, but his angelic features mask dysfunctions that threaten both women's lives.
In a contemporary review, the New York Times wrote "It begs for empathy for its tortured principals, but despite the clearly dedicated contributions of Patricia Neal, Roald Dahl, her scenarist-husband; Pamela Brown and a young newcomer, Nicholas Clay, the strain on credibility is a good deal more notable than the impact on the emotions"; while more recently, a reviwer for DVD Talk wrote "The Night Digger doesn't carry much of a reputation, but I found it highly unusual, and more than satisfying". Cinema Retro called it "an underrated gem"; and the Radio Times concluded "director Alastair Reid's neo-Grand Guignol chamber piece exudes a peculiar fascination".
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