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Author Topic: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)  (Read 7956 times)

Ben Cobb

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The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« on: 06 Mar 2008 - 11:52 »

Saw this dark and complex psycho-sexual drama the other night on TCM. It's written by Roald Dahl (who adapted it from Joy Cowley's book but inserted a typically macabre ending). Nicholas Clay (Lancelot in Boorman's Excalibur) stars as Billy, a very disturbed young man who travels the country on his motorbike (bit like Lovelock in Queens of Evil) leaving a trail of rape/murders behind him - all brilliantly played out off-camera. He ends up at a crumbling family estate inhabited by a blind old woman and her middle-aged adopted daughter Maura (stunning Patricia Neal). Billy stays on as a handyman and a sweet but tragic love story develops between him and Maura. Amazing photography, great soundtrack and incredible performances from a who's who of Brit talent... If you haven't seen this, you need to now. Highly recommended!
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Paul

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #1 on: 07 Mar 2008 - 13:14 »

This sounds great, Ben. Not seen--or even heard of--this before. I shall look out for it on TCM. Anyone know of anyvideo releases?
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Ben Cobb

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #2 on: 07 Mar 2008 - 15:16 »

I'd never heard of it before either Paul. I stumbled across it by mistake. According to IMDB it also went under the title The Road Builder (don't know where) and was called Das Haus der Schatten in Germany. I can't find any information on VHS releases. I'd love this gem to pop up on DVD.
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Kevin Coed

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #3 on: 07 Mar 2008 - 15:19 »

It's covered in Fab Press' TEN YEARS OF TERROR book. I'll have to keep an eye out in case TCM show it again.
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Ben Cobb

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #4 on: 07 Mar 2008 - 15:33 »

Thanks Kevin. Right you are - just grabbed it off my shelf. Great tagline: 'A lonely woman in a decaying mansion... a young stranger on a big, black bike... his shovel... and his straps.' Kim Newman's piece says that it was never released theatrically in Britain and only briefly in the US. He is unfairly hard on the film, IMO. 
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Michael Blanton

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #5 on: 01 May 2008 - 03:33 »

great soundtrack

Great little macabre film with an excellent, but not well known, score by anglophile Bernard Herrmann, which features Tommy Reilly on harmonica and Rosemary Green on viola d'amore.   

The Australian CD, put out by Label X, has a picture of The "Night Digger" on the cover. 

He looks like Lou Reed with a permanent.  Or, "temporary."  As I like to call 'em.

http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/images/cd/large/Night_Digger_LXCD12.jpg

The liner notes discuss the film (with slight spoilers), the score (and the importance of the harmonica) and a bio of Herrmann.

I believe THE ROAD BUILDER is the American title of the film.

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MarcMorris

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #6 on: 01 May 2008 - 11:07 »

I like Alastair Reid's stuff.

The Road Builder / The Night Digger has been shown by TNT on and off for well over 15 years, which was when I first got a copy.

Reid's "Something to Hide" is another gem worth tracking down, with a young Linda Hayden playing a right bitch who gets Peter Finch into deep trouble. Diana Dors plays his missus.

Then there's Alastair Reid's Baby Love - again starring Linda Haydena and Diana Dors... and Dick Emery as a right old perv!

Reid also directed episodes of the great 70s TV series Gangsters - now that's one WELL worth picking up!
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Inspector Tanzi

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #7 on: 27 Jul 2011 - 20:02 »

Looking through some of the reviews on IMDB and it says that the TCM version is cut and the Warner Archive disc is the complete version.

I met up with Paul today and we watched the archive disc. I enjoyed it but it wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be, still thought it was ok though. I think Paul liked it a bit more than I did  :D

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #8 on: 27 Jul 2011 - 21:10 »

Didn't even know that was out,so thanks for the heads up!  ;)
I suspected the TCM version was cut...  :D
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Inspector Tanzi

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #9 on: 27 Jul 2011 - 21:10 »

Didn't even know that was out,so thanks for the heads up!  ;)
Nor did I till recently.
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Inspector Tanzi

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #10 on: 27 Jul 2011 - 21:14 »

I suspected the TCM version was cut...
Something according to some flashbacks apparently. This is the first time I've seen it so I'm glad I saw the full one.

From imdb:

When I first saw it it was edited for TV so there were some unexplained pieces (like a bit about something that happened to him as a child which explains what he does as an adult) and, I assumed the violence was gone. I was finally able to see the entire uncut film and loved it! It wasn't a blood and guts horror movie--it's an excellent psychological horror. In fact the two violent acts in it aren't even shown! It concentrates on Billy and Maura and their feelings and thoughts. Clay and Neal are such great actors that just their expressions tell you what they're feeling. The growing romance between them was touching and believable. Also there's an excellent score and the ending was a stunner! This film has an R rating for some dialogue and a lengthy nude sequence with Clay. Well worth catching just for Clay and Neal.

This movie is available on DVD through the made to order system with the Warner Brothers Archive Collection. It's complete and the transfer is pristine. Well worth getting. It might disturb you but you'll never forget it. Avoid the cut version on TCM.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067486/usercomments
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Paul

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #11 on: 27 Jul 2011 - 22:20 »

I think Paul liked it a bit more than I did  :D



I think this is one of those films you appreciate more in hindsight when you've had a bit of time to think it over. It's a good film, not amazing but its certainly interesting and, as mentioned elsewhere, brilliantly acted.



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Michael Blanton

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #12 on: 28 Jul 2011 - 01:35 »

I think Paul liked it a bit more than I did  :D
I think this is one of those films you appreciate more in hindsight when you've had a bit of time to think it over. It's a good film, not amazing but its certainly interesting and, as mentioned elsewhere, brilliantly acted.
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

It's got a great score, featuring harmonica, by American Anglophile, Bernard Herrmann.  I haven't seen it in a while, but just picked up the Warner Archives DVD.  I'll watch it soon and get back with my thoughts.
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Jonny

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #13 on: 01 Sep 2014 - 21:04 »

Another Archive disc I've just got around to watching. Enjoyed it a lot, reminded me of MUMSY, NANNY, SONNY & GIRLY a lot during the early stages which is probably due to it being another of the many film shot at OAKLEY COURT - probably the location that reminded me of the Freddie Francis film more than anything as the plots nothing similar.

Good film overall, glad I've finally seen it. I did like the bikers set up, with the straps on the bike so he could carry a dead body and the odd set up he used to harness himself to said victims.
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Paul

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Re: The Night Digger (Alastair Reid, 1971)
« Reply #14 on: 01 Sep 2014 - 22:18 »

Another Archive disc I've just got around to watching. Enjoyed it a lot, reminded me of MUMSY, NANNY, SONNY & GIRLY a lot during the early stages which is probably due to it being another of the many film shot at OAKLEY COURT - probably the location that reminded me of the Freddie Francis film more than anything as the plots nothing similar.

Good film overall, glad I've finally seen it. I did like the bikers set up, with the straps on the bike so he could carry a dead body and the odd set up he used to harness himself to said victims.

I liked this one but remember little of it. Only saw it three years ago too  ???
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