The Night of the Hunter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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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 ›
There is no doubt that "The Night of the Hunter" is an acquired taste like some of Hitchcock and Welles' films but for those who appreciate the film this is the ultimate edition and essential. The film like Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" and Welles' "The Magnificient Ambersons" focuses on how we saw ourselves in the era the film is set not necessarily on how we really WERE at the time. There is a stylized, theatrical quality to the film that wasn't unnatural for the era.Read more ›
According to Criterion, the new transfer features:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- Audio commentary featuring assistant director Terry Sanders, film critic F. X. Feeney, archivist Robert Gitt, and author Preston Neal Jones
- Charles Laughton Directs "The Night of the Hunter," a two-and-a-half-hour archival treasure trove of outtakes from the film
- New documentary featuring interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Jones, and author Jeffrey Couchman
- New video interview with Simon Callow, author of Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor
- Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show, in which cast members perform live a scene that was deleted from the film
- Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film
- Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
- Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb
- New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs "The Night of the Hunter"
- Original theatrical trailer
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow
Evil Preacher Harry Powell is a man that has done his living by marrying naive widows, killing them and stealing her money. He and the Lord (God) had a very peculiar relationship in which the preacher uses the name of him for his unlawful acts. When it comes to his knowledge that a robber sentenced to death hid the money with his family, the preacher sees this as another sign of the Lord to carry on with his mission. He arrives to a small town where he befriends the thief's widow and of course ends marrying her. While she does not suspect anything at all, her children, John and Pearl who knows where the money is do not trust the newcomer. After Harry disposes of Willa (the widow), he comes after the children to make them tell him where the money is. The children escape and here begins a chase down the river until the children arrives at the house of Rachel Cooper, a religious and good woman who shelter the children and defend them from the evil preacher.
Told like that, the story seems simple but many things enhance it and elevate the film to a classis status. Charles Laughton did a terrific job directing the film. From subtle references of silent films to beautiful shots to build atmosphere, his passion and love for his work can be feeled in every shot. Stanley's Cortez cinematography is simply breathtaking.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was my mother's most favorite movie...ever. I wish she were still alive to see the wonderful second disc with so much information about the making of the movie, out-takes,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by John A. Smith
I grew up watching this movie, it terrifies me just as much now as it did then. Its absolutely perfect.Published 2 months ago by Sarah
Robert Mitcham at his absolute best!
That film haunts me to this day!
This film should have got a Oscar!
Who knew that those old Church hymns such as "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" or "Bringing in the Sheaves" could send chills of terror up your spine? Read morePublished 5 months ago by David Girod
Michum's greatest film! So so creepy. This is what true psychological terror looks like.Published 5 months ago by Amlit
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|Blu ray cropped?||
Mr. Bobber, the original aspect ratio of the negative was 1.37. A few release prints were blown-up and cropped in 1.66 (to create a quasi wide screen effect) but most projection systems of the 1950's could only handle standard 35mm (keep in mind that CinemaScope was an optical process). The DVD... Read More
Aug 16, 2011 by D Barrett | See all 3 posts
|Criterion Blu Ray coding||
Criterion isn't the only distributor to do this. Many discs in Europe dont play here either, as well as all over the world. Probably due to licensing issues. But as M Montoya suggests, you can email them for the whole story (if there even is one)
Jul 30, 2011 by Quexos | See all 4 posts