The Night of the Hunter
The wedding night, the anticipation, the kiss, the knife, BUT ABOVE ALL...THE SUSPENSE!
A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.
One of cinema’s great travesties is that Charles Laughton only directed one official film. So poorly received, both critically and commercially, was The Night of the Hunter that Laughton never helmed another film again. Whilst many works of art go unappreciated in their creator’s lifetime it still begs the question: why were people in 1955 such fucking idiots?
To miss this film’s brilliance is difficult to comprehend. Laughton has created one of the great American films of the ‘50s, a decade positively bursting with classics. It is hard to pigeonhole (and may well be the reason for its poor reception upon release) because whilst it is a noir thriller it feels more like a twisted bedtime story. It blends the…
One of my unspoken rules here was that I wasn't going to give any movie a five-star rating on its first watch. It was really only a matter of time before I looked like an asshole on that one.
Admittedly, I am a sucker for stylized sets and expressionistic lighting and movies about bad people doing bad things. But apart from my personal tastes, The Night of the Hunter is filmmaking firing on all cylinders.
There's nothing new I can add to the discussion of this film, but I will say that I was fairly surprised at the turn it took in the third act revealing itself to be not (only) a noir thriller, but a classic fairy tale set in the real world.
. . . and that crazy sound design move when Mitchum yells at the kids was so cool it broke my brain.
"It's a hard world for little things."
I read in multiple places that The Night of the Hunter was a critical and commercial failure when it was released in the United States way back in 1955. After finally seeing this dark little gem after years of procrastination, I can fully understand HOW it would've been a failure but I still don't know WHY.
The Night of the Hunter is just inches short of being a masterpiece. A truly one of a kind film both figuratively and literally. Not a lot of other films come close to blending many genres and tones this seamlessly and sadly director/actor Charles Laughton never got a chance to prove himself twice. The failure of the…
While watching The Night of the Hunter, I was repeatedly reminded of Antichrist; I'm still not entirely sure that's a valid comparison, but it's what I thought of. I think there are some very superficial similarities - the beautiful, dream/nightmare-like expressionist style, the detailed shots of animals. But I also think that The Night of the Hunter seemed like a horror movie in the way that Antichrist was a horror movie - not a traditional one, but one that is still very much so, at its core. I think I was even more disturbed by The Night of the Hunter, which did not rely on shock for its horror.
I found this film to be strangely terrifying. The picture is…
Ah yes, The Night of the Hunter: the box office sensation that launched a thousand copycat Southern-Gothic-German-Expressionist-Noir-Faerie-Tales onto American movie screens in the 1950s.
I can't really add anything to the critical argument for this film, but I will say that there really, truly isn't anything else like it in the history of the movies. Its mood, ethereal and pulpy and mythical and nightmarish all at once, must be seen to be believed. It's like a fever dream, if said fever dream was narrated by Flannery O'Connor. It's a film that burrows into your consciousness and will never, ever leave.
Watching it again, I was most impressed by the collective talent on display. This has long been lamented as Charles…
"It's still here among us, tainting us."
So much has been written and spoken about The Night Of The Hunter over the last 57 years, and for the most part the focus of such attention has been on three things - the terrible critical and box office reception it received on its release, the fact that it was to be Charles Laughton's only (credited) film as director and Robert Mitchum's performance.
These three elements loom over The Night Of The Hunter, casting a shadow over it almost as foreboding and dominating as the shadows cast by Mitchum's psychopathic preacher as he stalks around the home of Shelley Winters in an attempt to terrify her children into revealing the whereabouts of…
I was very interested in re-watching this movie, in the last few months i doing some re-watches to some older movies, and my opinion changed in many of them, because yes i didn't really like this movie the first time i saw it, but maybe all needed was a re-watch.
The Night of the Hunter is Directed by Academy Award Winning Actor Charles Laughton and it stars Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish,James Gleason, Peter Graves and Sally Jane Bruce and Billy Chapin as the kids.
"Harry Powell marries and murders widows for their money, believing he is helping God do away with women who arouse men's carnal instincts. Arrested for auto theft, he shares a cell with condemned killer…
Still stunning Bible black shadowplay, filled with stark imagery, and nightmare logic. Robert Mitchum's hellfire preacher, stalking the dark, rural landscape with his LOVE and HATE knuckle tattoos and a flick-knife in his pocket, remains one of cinemas great monsters. "Weren't you afraid, little lambs, down there in all that dark?".
3 Stars to The Night of the Hunter. Yes.
Basically, well, I think the script is severely lacking in both character development and expositional transition. What's that, you ask? I just made it up. Basically, and I hardly ever say this, the film needs a tad more exposition.
For 60% of the film I was left wondering what the hell I was watching. There's entire scenes of things I don't understand that don't seem to affect the plot either. The entire beginning I just didn't understand. For the first hour or so I, and my mother, were utterly confused.
The scenes are held together by a loose thread, and with no characters to keep company, the film just drags with…
Reverend Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), a black-hatted fire and brimstone preacher with LOVE and HATE inked into his knuckles, travels 1930’s West Virginia not only spreading the word of the Lord, but killing the widows God requests him to. Sharing a prison cell, his path crosses with Ben Harper, a family man who killed two men in a robbery while attempting to provide for his wife and children. Only his son John and daughter Pearl know the secret location of the stolen $10,000. As Ben is hung for his crime, Powell is released from his short sentence and attempts to work his way into the small rural community and con the family out of the money.
Released in 1955 the…
While Charles Laughton only directed Night of the Hunter, if he were to make any more, they would not top his directorial debut. Night of the Hunter is a timeless work; its scenery is flooded with shadows and artifice to the point where it will never be dated. It is through this style that attracts me to this film. It takes the dramatic composition of Weimar Germany and puts a dash of American folklore into the mix. Ultimately, Laughton creates a film that captures childhood--specifically the battle between dreams and nightmares (or right and left hand). Of course, the most momentous aspect of Night of the Hunter is Robert Mitchum’s performance, which is, combined with sinister lighting, the most frightening…
It's so good it makes me wish Laughton had made more movies.
On this viewing, I was even more struck by the production design, cinematography, and mise en scéne.
A really good film that could have risen to "great" if the pace and suspense had not dropped off for the final third of the movie. This is based off a true story and mostly keeps true to the fact, but the ending seems a bit disappointing after the creepy child-stalking beginning. Robert Mitchum is a thing to be feared. You'll never listen to "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" in quite the same way again.
This atmospheric and unusual film was the only film to be directed by Charles Laughton - discouraged by its critical reception, he never ventured behind a camera again. Viewing the film now, it is our loss that he did not go on to develop his skill and leave us other examples of his craft.
Robert Mitchum is evil personified as the convict who seeks the hidden treasure of his dead cell-mate. To get it he will marry the man's widow and terrorise his children, and no matter the cost.
The story may sound simple enough, but the way the film is shot leaves a succession of images which transcend any doubts about the material. Shelley Winters, as she would in…