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

4.6 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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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.

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

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
    • Directors: Charles Laughton
    • Format: Multiple Formats, 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
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: November 16, 2010
    • Run Time: 108 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B003ZYU3TQ
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,616 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Night of the Hunter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By EA 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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    Format: Blu-ray
    Combining elements of Southern Gothic with German Expressionism Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter" remains an unusual classic. It manages to combine suspense, broad elements of satire, and a dollop of compassion. This is an influence of D. W. Griffith's stylized dramas. Laughton even went so far as to cast Griffith regular Lillian Gish in a pivotal role that echoes her work for Griffith from the silent era. Laughton tells a story that Faulkner or O'Connor might have although with a slightly less populist touch. Featuring an amazing performance from Robert Mitchum that is, at turns, sincere, evil, psychopathic and just south of over-the-top, actor Laughton ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "Mutiny on the Bounty")was in his 50's when he made his first film in collaboration with director of photography Stanley Cortez ("The Magnificient Ambersons")and acclaimed writer James Agee ("The African Queen" the Pulitzer Prize winning novel A DEATH IN THE FAMILY)but it's clear that he paid attention on all of those movie sets. A box office dud when it was released the audience at the time didn't know what to make of Laughton's film. Laughton never directed a film again. Luckily audiences rediscovered this stylized film which is as droll as it is sincere and suspenseful.

    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.
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    Format: Blu-ray
    This has to be one of the greatest and most unique films in all American movie history. Unlike bare-bones editions of the past, the new DVD and Blu-Ray versions from Criterion offer us plenty to cheer about.
    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
    1 Comment 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER [1955] [The Criterion Collection Special Edition] [Blu-ray] Towering Above All Others . . . But Greater Than Them All is The Impact of the Motion Picture Itself!

    ‘The Night of the Hunter’ incredibly, was the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed and is truly a standalone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum [‘Cape Fear’ and ‘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’ and ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’] are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humour, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish [‘Intolerance’ and ‘Duel in the Sun’] and writer James Agee, is cinema's quirkiest rendering of the battle between good and evil.

    FILM FACT: The film was a collaboration of Charles Laughton and screenwriter James Agee. Charles Laughton drew on the harsh, angular look of German expressionist films of the 1920s. The film's score, composed and arranged by Walter Schumann in close association with Charles Laughton, features a combination of nostalgic and expressionistic orchestral passages. The film has two original songs by Walter Schumann, "Lullaby" (sung by Kitty White, whom Walter Schumann discovered in a nightclub) and "Pretty Fly" (originally sung by Sally Jane Bruce as Pearl, but later dubbed by an actress named Betty Benson). A recurring musical device involves the preacher making his presence known by singing the traditional hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.
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