The Night of the Hunter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
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
‘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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the only film Charles Laughton directed. But what a film! Robert Mitchum plays a bad guy straight out of a child's nightmare. Read morePublished 1 day ago by carol irvin
***Review Contains Spoilers***
The Night of the Hunter is a great example of a film that convincingly accomplishes that difficult balance between accessibility and... Read more
A single image of a preacher, with his hands upon the post of a railing, knuckles spelling out the word L-O-V-E. Read more
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 8 months ago by John A. Smith