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The Night of the Hunter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1955)

Robert Mitchum , Shelley Winters , Charles Laughton  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (326 customer reviews)

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"The Life Aquatic" Available for Pre-order on Blu-ray
The Criterion Collection's release of Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic is available for pe-order on Blu-ray. This title releases May 27th, 2014. Learn more

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
  • Directors: Charles Laughton
  • Format: Blu-ray, Black & White, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: November 16, 2010
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (326 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ZYU3TQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,427 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Night of the Hunter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary with assistant director Terry Sanders, F. X. Feeney, and more
  • Night of the Hunter - a treasure trove of outtakes from the film (2.5 hrs)
  • Interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Jones, and Jeffrey Couchman
  • New video interview with Simon Callow
  • Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show
  • Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show "Moving Pictures"
  • Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
  • Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb
  • New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow

  • Editorial Reviews

    The Night of the Hunter—incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed—is truly a standalone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear, The Friends of Eddie Coyle) as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters (A Place in the Sun, The Diary of Anne Frank) are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic—also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish (Intolerance, Duel in the Sun) and writer James Agee—is cinema’s quirkiest rendering of the battle between good and evil.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    185 of 198 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A dark journey on the river of dreams... September 28, 2001
    Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
    There are images in Night of the Hunter, Charles Laughton's only film as a director, that will sear themselves into your brain and haunt you the rest of your life. That's not hyperbole; this film is simply that potent.
    Nothing about Night of the Hunter is "realistic" or even plausible - not the plot, not the dialogue, not the behavior of the child characters, not the photography. Yet, Night of the Hunter transcends realism utterly to do something far more challenging than merely create a simulacrum of reality. It creates a waking dream - a vivid hallucination of fearsome beasts, tragic heroines, children in peril, and ultimate redemption. It succeeds as a modern fairy tale in the darkest tradition of the brothers Grimm. Even comparisons to German expressionist cinema of the silent era (apt though they are) diminish the singular, elemental power of this film. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu are stunning, but it's hard to imagine either of them getting under the skin in quite the same way.
    The plot centers on the evil machinations of Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), a murderous, psychotic "preacher" who does time with bank-robber Ben Harper (Peter Graves), father of two young children (Billy Chapin - brother of Father Knows Best star Lauren, and Sally Jane Bruce). Before being taken away by the police, Harper hid the money he stole and swore his children to secrecy about its location. No one else - not even their mother Willa (wonderfully played by Shelley Winters) - knows where the money is hidden. But after Ben Harper is hanged for the murder of two bank guards killed during the robbery, Harry Powell makes it his business to find out. Thus begins a cinematic odyssey like no other, filled with stark symbolism and eerie imagery.
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    60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Love hate good evil August 22, 2010
    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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    72 of 78 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars "Wherefore By Their Fruits, Ye Shall Know Them..." June 14, 2004
    From the novel by Davis Grubb - the first and only film directed and purportedly written by the flamboyant and swashbucking actor, Charles Laughton. In Robert Mitchum's biography, he stated that Laughton found the script by James Agee (co-writer of the African Queen) totally unacceptable. Laughton paid off Agee, sent him packing and rewrote virtually the entire script himself, uncredited.
    This 1955 melodrama cum Grimm's Fairy Tale is brilliantly directed, acted, scored and the cinematography by Stanley Cortez is breathtakingly creepy and beautiful all at the same time.
    Mitchum plays the sexually repressed, thieving, lying, cheating and quite sociopathic Rev. Harry Powell. The ol' Rev. got caught in a stolen vehicle while watching a "hootchie cootchie" dancer in a burlesque establishment and is sentenced to 30 days in the state penitentiary. It just so happens as fate takes a turn that the scheming Rev's bunkmate is in the clink for killing two men and robbing a bank of over $10,000.00 that has never been recovered.
    The Rev. tries to get the "sinner" to tell him where the money is hidden but the man won't budge. The man is hanged for his crime, the Rev. is let out of jail and goes to find the man's wife, played by Shelley Winters, his two young children and , of course, the loot! The Rev. even marries the young widow to get to the money and many evils ensue... Lillian Gish turns in a wonderful performance as a benefactor of the children.
    I don't want to spoil the premise of the movie as other reviewers have done. Just know that it's a horror/fairytale/melodrama/satire all rolled into a great piece of filmaking!
    If you liked Mitchum in "Cape Fear" you will love him as the sociopathic Rev. Powell!
    Happy Watching!
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    3.0 out of 5 stars Falls short
    Given it's age, it's makes just 'okay' for someone who really likes mystery, intrigue and suspense. Of course if you're like me and want to experience ALL of the movies on the... Read more
    Published 16 days ago by Judy Cabito
    3.0 out of 5 stars Creepy movie
    I saw this film when it first came out, when I was young and impressionable. I remembered it being very scary and very creepy. Read more
    Published 29 days ago by Martha P. Miller
    5.0 out of 5 stars American Classic
    Charles Laughton's only film as a director. Filled with great theatrical moments and a fairy tale horror and mysticism. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by L. Eugene Pelfrey
    5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this movie
    Robert Mitchum has always been a very good & convincing actor. He really gets into charactor for his role. He was very convincing.
    Published 1 month ago by Georgianna Hawkins
    4.0 out of 5 stars love
    i love this idea every one wants to know where i got the
    love it love love love this happy
    Published 1 month ago by rachel brundidge
    4.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
    Great cult movie. The visuals are fantastic as is the performance of Lillian Gish at the end of the film.
    Published 1 month ago by D.E. McCourt
    5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Mitchum in one of his best roles!
    I consider myself a huge Robert Mitchum fan and in my opinion, this movie is one of his best works. It took me a few years to view the movie, but now that I've seen it, I can't... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Mrs. UGA
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
    Excellent movie. More artsy, than dark. Full of artsy, spooky camera shots and scenery. Great acting. Watched with kids, and we all enjoyed it.
    Published 2 months ago by Jason G. Whitworth
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and overlooked movie
    I loved it, because I adore morality plays. This one was perfect. Robert Mitchum is searingly evil, and while we know it, you have to ask why no one else in the story, except for... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Pushkin's Mom
    2.0 out of 5 stars I
    Harry Powell is the name of a real serial killer. He murdered five people in West Virginia. This movie has little to do with what actually happened in 1930's West Virginia. Read more
    Published 3 months ago by May11
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    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
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