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The Night of the Hunter

4.3 out of 5 stars 367 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish. Charles Laughton's only directorial effort comes together in this remastered edition of the gripping story about a psychotic preacher on the hunt for a dead man's money. 1955/b&w/93 min/NR/fullscreen.

Special Features

  • 8-Page Booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Billy Chapin, Lillian Gish, Peter Graves
  • Directors: Charles Laughton
  • Format: Black & White
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2000
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (367 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000035P5R
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,414 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Night of the Hunter" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: DVD
Charles Laughton unfortunately only directed one film, but what a brilliant one it turned out to be! A gothic film-noir classic infused with a wicked sense of understated black humor.
The storyline is quite simple; centered around the quest for the loot of a bank-robbery gone wrong, but the real high-point of this film is Robert Mitchum.
Mitchum's portrayal of a sexually frustrated, sadistic, murderous conman, that tries to uncover the whereabouts of 10.000 $ by presenting himself as a god-fearing preacher-man, is one of the most sinister and menacing displays of criminally insane, psychopatic behaviour ever captured on film.
Laughton's direction and Stanley Cortez's cinematography, especially in the underwater, where the dead body of Shelly Winters is found strapped to her car, and in the nightmare-ish, dream-like sequense, where Mitchum stalks the river-bound children, creates scenes that has forever etched themselves in my "movie-memory".
Laughton's directing-style seem influenced by german expressionists as Fritz Lang or Walter Ruttmann with his highly stylized use of film-techniques to underline Mitchum's darkened mental state and the general disturbed "feel" of this truly frightening film.
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Format: DVD
I first saw this movie with my sorority sisters on tv in the sixties, and it scared all of us to death. I can remember very clearly the scene where Shelly Winters is underwater with her hair floating upwards, and it still gives me chills. What scared me most was that all the characters were nightmarishly unreal except for the boy and Lillian Gish. Even little Pearl wasn't realistically written...what child can sing the way she does in the floating boat? Later, thanks to a viewing of "The Lusty Men," I became a real fan of Robert Mitchum and never missed an opportunity to watch him. Whether playing a moonshiner in "Thunder Road" (incidentally, I know all the words to the song, too!), to watching end-of-career interviews on AMC, I saw them all. Many of the reviews I have seen online of this movie("Night of the Hunter") make much of the fact that James Agee wrote the script. In an interview Mitchum said the original script by Agee had to be completely rewritten by Charles Laughton who got absolutely no credit for it. He also said the German Impressionist look to the movie came about for the same reason original German Impressionism was invented: no money! The really creepy scene where the boy says "Don't he ever sleep?" while looking out the window at Mitchum's silhouette on the horizon is an optical illusion. That's really a midget on a pony inside a sound studio, photographed to look like a long shot of Mitchum. The budget was miniscule for the movie because nobody wanted to invest a lot in Laughton's initial directorial effort.
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