The 2010 Criterion Collection release of The Night of the Hunter
includes extras that no fan of mid-century American film should be without. The Night of the Hunter
was the only film directed by actor Charles Laughton, and Laughton, in addition to being a splendid character actor and masterful director, was also a compulsive archivist, it turns out. The most compelling feature in the Criterion Collection package is an amazing two-and-a-half-hour "film diary" of the making of The Night of the Hunter
, culled from hundreds of hours of random footage shot during filming, and then stashed for years in the home of Laughton's widow, actress Elsa Lanchester. In the 1970s, film archivist Robert Gitt and many others tackled the laborious challenge of screening and matching the contents of the film canisters over the better part of two decades. The result is Charles Laughton Directs "The Night of the Hunter"
, as intimate and illuminating a piece of film history as anything in recent memory. Gitt himself speaks with film critic Leonard Maltin about the contents of the footage in an animated 20-minute introductory conversation that shows both men practically giddy with the riches revealed in the assembled outtakes. And giddy they should be. Charles Laughton Directs "The Night of the Hunter"
preserves Laughton's on- and off-camera coaching of all the actors, including Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters (with whom he clearly had a fractious relationship), and the two child actors, Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce (with whom he's very gentle and coaxing). The result is an even greater appreciation for the weird darkness and creepiness of The Night of the Hunter
, and for the brilliance of all the minds involved in making it. "Just lie there and be seraphic," Maltin quotes Laughton as saying in the intro chat, laughing. "That's got to be the first and only time that specific direction has ever
been given in Hollywood."
Other extras in this rich set include audio commentary; film bios and interviews of the talented cinematographer Stanley Cortez and others; footage of the actors on The Ed Sullivan Show performing a scene deleted from the final cut; and much more. Any fan of The Night of the Hunter will not want to miss this very special collector's edition. --A.T. Hurley
La Nuit du chasseur (titre original : The Night of the Hunter) est un film américain réalisé par Charles Laughton en 1955. Il est tiré du roman éponyme de Davis Grubb, et publié en 1953....Dans les années 1930, lors d'un court séjour en prison, le pasteur Harry Powell a comme compagnon de cellule Ben Harper, un homme désespéré qui, pour sauver sa famille, a commis un hold-up et assassiné deux hommes. Powell cherche à faire dire à Harper où se trouvent les 10 000 dollars dérobés, mais celui-ci ne cède pas. Le prêcheur fanatique se rend chez la veuve de Harper, qui a été pendu. Willa Harper ne tarde pas à épouser l'homme d'Église, ne voulant pas voir que ce dernier ne désire qu'une chose : faire avouer à ses enfants, John et Pearl, l'emplacement du magot.