The Night of the Hunter
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- 8-Page Booklet
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Robert Mitchum was never better than in this role. Dark, dangerous, while pretending to be a man of God....... Read morePublished 2 days ago by V. Looney
I rented this movie for a class and was afraid I wouldn't like it but it is great if you like noir films.Published 1 month ago by Melissa
Very suspenseful movie. Loved that Lilian Gish gets the better of the night hunter.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
My bad, didn;t read description proper, does not work on U.S. electronics!!Published 1 month ago by Shelly Hansbury
This movie is in black and white but I didn't have any issues and watched it entirely. The most exciting part was when those kids became involved and since my generation is older... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Debra L. Showalter
As I watched this I frequently thought of the Universal Frankenstein films of the '30's. Given Laughton's connection to those films, his wife was the Bride of Frankenstein, after... Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. North
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