The Night of the Hunter
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A tall, handsome preacher his knuckles eerily tattooed with love and hate roams the countryside, spreading the gospel...and leaving a trail of murdered women in his wake. To Reverend Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), the work of the Lord has more to do with condemning souls than saving them,especially when his own interests are involved. Now his sights are set on $10,000and two little children are the only ones who know where it is. Chill...dren! the preacher croons to the terrified boy and girl hiding in the cold, dark cellar...innocent young lambs who refuse to be led astray. A finely acted, imaginatively directed chiller with brooding power (Variety), The Night of the Hunter stars Mitchum in the most daring and critically acclaimed performance of his career. Spellbinding, ominous, and hauntingly suspenseful, this extraordinary film noir classic remains one of the most frightening movies ever made (Pauline Kael).
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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 21 months ago by henry kowalyk
Le film de Laughton est une oeuvre sombre, dure, brillante. Mitchum incarne un des plus grands contre-emploi de l<histoire du cinema.Published on Dec 24 2012 by Luigi
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
It does not surprise me to see so many negative reviews. Almost every film I would call a masterpiece gets the same treatment. Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by TL
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 morePublished on Feb. 20 2004 by Susan
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 morePublished on Nov. 15 2003 by Miles D. Moore
I recently screened "Night of the Hunter" with Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters. Winters, in my opinion, is THE worst actress of all time. Read morePublished on June 14 2003 by Ed Kaz
When unctuous Reverend Harry Powell (Mitchum) learns where a convicted criminal has stashed some money, he literally casts an ominous shadow on his Depression-era, West Virginia... Read morePublished on May 12 2003
"Night of the Hunter" is my favorite movie, bar none.
Recently, I was privileged to see, at Film Forum 2, in downtown Manhattan, a documentary called "The Epic That WAS" about... Read more