The Spiral Road

The Spiral Road is a 1962 American adventure drama film directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Rock Hudson, Burl Ives, Gena Rowlands, and Geoffrey Keen.[1][2] The film was released by Universal-International in the United States in 1962, the same year that Mulligan's other movie To Kill a Mockingbird became a critical and commercial success.

The Spiral Road
Directed byRobert Mulligan
Produced byRobert Arthur
Written byJan de Hartog
Screenplay byJohn Lee Mahin
Neil Paterson
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyRussell Harlan
Edited byRussell F. Schoengarth
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal International
Release date
  • August 3, 1962 (1962-08-03) (New York City)
Running time
139 minutes
CountryUnited States

The movie was filmed in Suriname in South America and was shot in Eastmancolor.


Dr. Anton Drager (Rock Hudson) travels to Java to study the effects of leprosy under an expert on the subject, Dr. Brits Jansen (Burl Ives). The two physicians have many of the same views scientifically, but are philosophically a mismatch because of Drager's atheism and Jansen's devout Christianity.

After being married to his sweetheart, Els (Gena Rowlands), Drager must trek into the jungle to track down Frolick (Philip Abbott), a drunken river master who is lost. Frolick has been driven mad by a shaman called Burubi (Reggie Nalder). Drager eventually comes across Frolick, but ends up killing him in self-defense.

After rescuing another doctor, in the same region, Anton becomes lost in the wild. He nearly dies and has lapsed into a coma by the time he is rescued. Drager's ordeal comes to change his perceptions, turning him into a Christian.



While many critics and audiences were impressed with the setting and scenery of the film, there was general consensus that the script was lacking[3] and that Mulligan's other films, particularly To Kill a Mockingbird, were better.

Michael E. Grost of Classic Film and Television wrote: "Weird but wildly inventive tale of doctors in the jungle, with good visuals."[4][5]

Home media

Universal released this film on DVD in 2006 as part of the Rock Hudson Screen Legend Collection, a 3-disc set featuring four other films (Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, A Very Special Favor, The Golden Blade, and The Last Sunset). Universal then re-released this film in 2015 as a stand-alone DVD as part of its Universal Vault Series. There is also a Region 2 DVD release of this film.

See also


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