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Night of the Hunter [VHS]


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Night of the Hunter [VHS] + Cape Fear [VHS]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden
  • Directors: Robert Mitchum, Charles Laughton, Terry Sanders
  • Writers: Charles Laughton, Davis Grubb, James Agee
  • Producers: Paul Gregory
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
  • VHS Release Date: January 4, 2000
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (368 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301973232
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,383 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

In the entire history of American movies, The Night of the Hunter stands out as the rarest and most exotic of specimens. It is, to say the least, a masterpiece--and not just because it was the only movie directed by flamboyant actor Charles Laughton or the only produced solo screenplay by the legendary critic James Agee (who also cowrote The African Queen). The truth is, nobody has ever made anything approaching its phantasmagoric, overheated style in which German expressionism, religious hysteria, fairy-tale fantasy (of the Grimm-est variety), and stalker movie are brought together in a furious boil. Like a nightmarish premonition of stalker movies to come, Night of the Hunter tells the suspenseful tale of a demented preacher (Robert Mitchum, in a performance that prefigures his memorable villain in Cape Fear), who torments a boy and his little sister--even marries their mixed-up mother (Shelley Winters)--because he's certain the kids know where their late bank-robber father hid a stash of stolen money. So dramatic, primal, and unforgettable are its images--the preacher's shadow looming over the children in their bedroom, the magical boat ride down a river whose banks teem with fantastic wildlife, those tattoos of LOVE and HATE on the unholy man's knuckles, the golden locks of a drowned woman waving in the current along with the indigenous plant life in her watery grave--that they're still haunting audiences (and filmmakers) today. --Jim Emerson

Customer Reviews

The movie really works on your brain in a way no other movie has (and probably will).
Allen W. Nyhuis
The film uses elements of Expressionism, which makes it seem oddly modern since many of our contemporary directors draw from that well when making movies.
Paul W. Shuster
Closing Thoughts: The Night of the Hunter is simply one of the best films ever made and deserves to be seen by everyone.
Don Vito Corleone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

198 of 211 people found the following review helpful By Wing J. Flanagan on 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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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 22, 2010
Format: DVD
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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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Sheila Chilcote-Collins VINE VOICE on June 14, 2004
Format: DVD
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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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)

http://www.criterion.com/contact_us
Jul 30, 2011 by Quexos |  See all 4 posts
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