HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
First Power, The
Lucky Lady
Pack, The
Blue Lamp, The
My Scientology Movie
Man from Laramie, The
Mad Dog Killer
Fanfan la Tulipe
Kickboxer: Vengeance
Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again
Clan, The
Madigan
Love & Friendship
Ones Below, The
Everybody Wants Some!!
Our Kind of Traitor
Star Trek Beyond
Lords of Dogtown
Hors Satan
Too Late the Hero
Jinnah
Ravishing Idiot, A
Girlhood
Whatever Works
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Speedy
Kama Sutra Rides Again
Panic
Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, The
Roxanne
   
 
Newest Articles
Manor On Movies: Beat On The Brat(s)
The Reality of the Heist Movie: Films that are based on real-life robberies
The SHADO Knows: UFO The Complete Series on Blu-ray
Siege Mentality: Rio Bravo and Assault on Precinct 13
Queens of Women: Five Cult Stars, Five Cult Films
Abstract Strategies: The Brothers Quay on Blu-ray
Born to be Cad: George Sanders and Psychomania
Speed Kills: The History of Fast Zombies
Skeleton Crew: The Blind Dead Movies
The Stars Are Out Tonight: Hollywood Celebrity Casts in the 70s
   
 
  Night of the Hunter, The Abide With MeBuy this film here.
Year: 1955
Director: Charles Laughton
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Peter Graves, Don Beddoe, Billy Chapin, Gloria Castillo, Sally Jane Bruce
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rating:  8 (from 4 votes)
Review: In Depression-era America, Ben Harper (Peter Graves) robs a bank and kills in the process. With the police hot on his trail, he gives his children, John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce), the loot to hide for him and is taken off to jail. He shares his cell with Preacher Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), who has been caught for stealing a car. But Powell has done much worse in his life, and he tries to cajole Ben into telling him where the money is; when Ben is executed, Powell tracks down his widow, Willa (Shelley Winters), and romances her while charming the townsfolk. Only John knows that Powell is after the money, and will stop at nothing to get it.

Of all the directors who made only one film and nothing else, it's possibly saddest that Charles Laughton never went onto direct anything other than The Night of the Hunter. On the other hand, it gives the film an added mystique, making you contemplate if he could work wonders here, what other gems could he have come up with given the chance? Written by James Agee from the novel by Davis Grubb (although legend has it that Laughton rewrote the script), this film is a true original, with its luminous photography by Stanley Cortez, righteous morality and richly defined characters.

The most memorable of those characters is Powell, a deadly psychopath who has unshakeable faith that God is on his side. Is he a real preacher? He certainly knows his Bible, and has the letters L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E tattooed on his knuckles so that he can tell an invented parable of the duality of man, with left hand wrestling right. He also carries a switchblade, his "sword", that he uses to murder his victims. Nowhere is his twisted sense of sin more apparent than at the start, where he visits a burlesque house and his blade tears through his pocket, both repelled by and attracted to the stripper before him, and wishing to destroy her for bringing out those feelings in him.

The film has the feel of a parable itself, with its wolf in sheep's clothing fooling everyone except John, who has hidden the money in Pearl's rag doll. Powell marries Willa, turning her into a wide-eyed religious penitent when he makes it clear she disgusts him, but it's not long before he's telling people Willa has run off. Where is she? In an incredible scene, one of many, we see her seated in her car on the river bed with her throat cut from ear to ear, her hair flowing in the current. Now John and Pearl have to escape.

As the song over the opening credits points out, this is like watching a dream - or a child's nightmare. The one where your father is replaced by an evil impostor, and the one where you are chased by a seemingly unstoppable monster. John and Pearl's flight from danger in a rowing boat down the river is beautifully composed, and the overwhelming menace never quite cancels out the exquisiteness of the images. To be honest, once the children find their refuge with Lillian Gish's widow, I think the story loses some of its power, because Powell is no match for a truly virtuous woman and the growing resilience of the children. But The Night of the Hunter deserves its classic status - there's nothing exactly like it in tone or look, and Mitchum is simply brilliant. Music by Walter Schumann.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4428 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme music?
Superman: The Movie
The Dark Knight
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three ('74)
Star Wars
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Great Escape
Halloween
The Ipcress File
The Magnificent Seven
Back to the Future
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Brandon Smith
Stately Wayne Manor
  James Dixon
  Lee Trathan
Enoch Sneed
Ian Phillips
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: