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The Night of the Hunter (Bilingual)

Robert Mitchum , Shelley Winters    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 32.94
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Product Description


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

Product Description

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.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't he never sleep? Feb. 22 2007
The best kind of horror comes not from monsters or ghosts, but from other human beings. "Cape Fear," "Heavenly Creatures," and other such movies are brilliant examples of this.

But one of the most compelling examples is "Night of the Hunter," a haunting movie that slowly descends into an exquisitely-filmed, brilliantly-acted nightmare about a malign preacher and the two children who are trying to escape. Like an old fairy tale, it's full of terror, magic, beauty and darkness.

Murderous preacher Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is arrested for car theft, since the police don't know that his hatred of women has led him to repeated murder. He shares a prison cell with bank robber Ben Harper (Peter Graves), who stole ten thousand dollars. Powell tries to coax the location of the money from Harper, but the thief takes it to his grave. Only his son John (Billy Chapin) knows its location.

Upon his release, Powell arrives in Harper's town, claiming that he wants to "bring this small comfort to [Ben's] loved ones." Everyone is taken in by him, including his new wife -- Ben's gullible widow, Willa (Shelley Winters). When she vanishes, John and his little sister Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce) must escape their evil stepfather -- even though he's determined to hunt them down and find the money.

When it was first released, "Night of the Hunter" flopped completely. Not very surprising -- the 1950s audiences weren't ready for the unconventional villains, rich symbolism, or the fact that an actor had dared to stray into a director's chair. Fortunately, it lived on as a cult film, and is now regarded as a classic.

It's especially sad that Laughton never directed again, because this is simply astonishing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leaning, leaning, leaning..... Nov. 3 2002
A father, Ben Harper, commits murder and steals $10,000, which he hides in a secret place the police will not search. The only people who know where the money is hidden are his son John and daughter Pearl. In prison where the father is anticipating his execution, he shares a cell with Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) who overhears Ben's secret about the money while he is talking in his sleep. When Ben is executed, Harry travels to the hometown of John and Pearl determined to find the money at all costs. The Night of the Hunter is a tremendously well written story that provides wise insights in human nature and the moral predicament of human ambiguity.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Spooky and Chilling Mitchum Classic Aug. 24 2002
Format:VHS Tape
"The Night of the Hunter" stars Robert Mitchum as the hypocritical and unholy preacher, Harry Powell. Harry Powell is a chilling villain, complete with LOVE and HATE tattooed on his knuckles. The story is about a man who robs a bank and kills some people. He is sentenced to be hanged. The man tells his son to hide the money, for one day it will be his. He makes his son promise to hide it at all costs. In his cell, he meets Harry Powell, who unsuccessfully attempts to find out where the money is hid. The man is hanged and Harry is soon released from prison. He charms the widow and tries to get the son to tell him where the money is hid. Soon, he eradicates the woman after getting married to her, and sets his sites on the children. Although this film is eerie and a classic, most of the characters are a bit annoying, except Robert Mitchum's Harry Powell. And Harry Powell doesn't even compare to Mitchum's psychopath character Max Cady in "Cape Fear". But, still, for those fans of Mitchum, I recommend this movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Theological American Rural-Noir. Good God! July 25 2002
Format:VHS Tape
But is He? Both Mitchum and Gish's characters quote Him and talk to Him non-stop. In Gish's case she's good hearted, in Mitchum's case--well, he's got a slight problem with women. . .
It would be a mistake to think of Mitcheum's 'Love/Hate' tatoo'ed gothic murderer as a phony. He is a con man but he is not a hypocrite to himself because he's in touch with his version of The Almighty. One who doesn't mind killing but 'lacey things. '
This is part of the film's horror. We are in W. Virginia depression Bible-thumping rural Americana in this one. A Protestant tour de force, with angels and devils in dust filled roads. Very ambiguous towards the feminine.
Charles Laughton's only shot as a director and brother, does he ever hit the mark! The film has obvious influences from German expressionism--the 'A' framed steeple/ bedroom- which turns into a 'shadow church' just before Winter's murder, to give one example. But it also borrows effectively from other genres including Greek tragedy, where not a single act of violence takes place "on stage". Paradoxically, this serves to intensify the suspense. The audience feels that something horrible is about to happen to the children fleeing Mitchum's howling preacher.
For the critics who were unmoved, It sounds as if they were expecting too much. After all, if one gave away the ending to any film, (especially a thriller!) and hyped it up as the greatest of all time one could turn the audience off to anything...
Just watch it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great oddball classics in film history July 13 2002
First, for those complaining that this DVD was not released in wide screen, I have to point out that this film was originally released as a 35MM print. In other words, there never will be a wide screen edition. People need to remember that not all films were released in 70MM format. Since the 1950s, virtually every film is 70MM, but in the 1950s, many were still being produced with the smaller ratio. You will also never get a "wide screen" edition of CASABLANCA or SEVEN SAMURAI or THE WIZARD OF OZ and for the same reason.
This is without question one of the most improbable films ever made, and one of the most extraordinary. As many have noted, it owes its style to the German Expressionism that we normally associate with the 1920s and early 1930s. In that regard, it is film that looks and feels like no other film made in its time. Furthermore, it is the only film that Charles Laughton, one of the few superstar character actors in film history, directed. German Expressionism also was instrumental in creating film noir in Hollywood, and as in film noir, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is dominated by shadows. But at the same time, it doesn't look like any other film noir that one can think of. The artificial night skies and stars are unique in American cinema.
But the film is not only unique in the way it looks. The detached, almost aloof manner in which the characters interact with one another is quite unlike anything else that was being done in 1955. For instance, Lillian Gish's character is willing to kill Robert Mitchum's character, but she is willing to sing hymns with him, and, in fact, seems to actually like him in many ways, though perhaps the way that a person might feel about a beautiful though poisonous snake.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Night of the Hunter
It turned out that I could not play this DVD on North American DVD players. The coding was set to play only in Europe.
Published 4 months ago by henry kowalyk
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant cinematography!
Stunning work from collaboration of Laughton and Cortz. The use of light, the framing and perspective are unique and dramatic. Read more
Published 4 months ago by T. Kirik
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting The Night of the Hunter
I recently watched this classic film directed by Charles Laughton that great actor who played Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Read more
Published 7 months ago by randolph ouimet
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome purchase!
Fantastic film receives a fantastic treatment from The Criterion Collection - it was a great buy! Would highly recommend for a gift.
Published 12 months ago by Stephanie
5.0 out of 5 stars Chef-d oeuvre
Le film de Laughton est une oeuvre sombre, dure, brillante. Mitchum incarne un des plus grands contre-emploi de l<histoire du cinema.
Published 21 months ago by Luigi
5.0 out of 5 stars Love hate, good evil
The best kind of horror comes not from monsters or ghosts, but from other human beings. "Cape Fear," "Heavenly Creatures," and other such movies are brilliant examples of... Read more
Published on May 1 2011 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Night of the Hunter
Item arrived in good time - despite it being ordered so close to Christmas. Excellent packaging and condition. Will use again, without doubt.
Published on Feb. 18 2009 by Jacqueline Woods-powell
5.0 out of 5 stars Childhood itself is under attack
It does not surprise me to see so many negative reviews. Almost every film I would call a masterpiece gets the same treatment. Read more
Published on June 26 2004 by TL
1.0 out of 5 stars If this is a masterpiece, so is a paint-by-# of Mona Lisa
I am still wondering why this film has so much admiration, being called brilliant, a masterpiece, terrifying, etc. etc. Because I was laughing most of the way through it... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2004 by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves to be ranked with "Citizen Kane."
Charles Laughton, one of the greatest actors of Hollywood's Golden Age, made his directorial debut at age 56 with "Night of the Hunter. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003 by Miles D. Moore
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