The Night of the Hunter

(DVD - 2010)
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Night of the Hunter
A self-styled preacher marries and murders the widow of an executed convict with whom he once shared a cell. He then terrorizes her two young children to force them to tell him the whereabouts of the $10,000 he knows their father hid before his imprisonment. "The Night of the Hunter -- incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed -- is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, 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 and writer James Agee -- is cinema's most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil." -- Publisher.

Series that include this title

Publisher: [New York, NY] : Criterion Collection, ©2010
Edition: Two-DVD special ed. widescreen
ISBN: 9781604653502
Branch Call Number: DVD MOVIE N
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (93 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (28 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.)
Additional Contributors: Laughton, Charles 1899-1962, Director
Agee, James 1909-1955, Author of screenplay
Gregory, Paul 1920-, Producer
Mitchum, Robert Actor
Winters, Shelley Actor
Gish, Lillian 1893-1993, Actor
Gleason, James 1886-1959, Actor
Varden, Evelyn 1893-1958, Actor
Graves, Peter 1926-2010, Actor
Beddoe, Don Actor
Chapin, Billy Actor
Bruce, Sally Jane Actor
Castillo, Gloria 1935-, Actor
Schumann, Walter 1913-1958, Composer
Cortez, Stanley Cinematographer
Brown, Hilyard Artistic director
Golden, Robert S. Film editor
Spencer, Alfred E. Set designer
Bos, Jerry Costume designer
Naughton, Stanford Sound designer
Rabin, Jack Photographer
DeWitt, Louis Photographer
Grubb, Davis (Night of the hunter) 1919-1980
UCLA Film and Television Archive
Paul Gregory Productions
United Artists Corporation
Criterion Collection (Firm)


From the critics

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Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Rachel Cooper: "...My soul is humbled when I see the way little ones accept their lot. Lord save little children... The wind blows, and the rains are cold, yet they abide..."

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Rachel Cooper: "Get your state troopers out here. I got something trapped in my barn."

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Rachel Cooper: "I'm a strong tree with branches for many birds. I'm good for something in this world and I know it too."

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Willa Harper (next to new husband Rev. Harry Powell, at the revival meeting): "You have all sinned! (crowd roars) Which one of you can say, as I can say, that you drove a good man to murder! (crowd) Because I kept a-houndin' him, for perfume, and clothes, and face paint! (crowd) And, he slewed two human beings! (crowd) And he come to me and he said TAKE THIS MONEY, AND BUY YOURSELF THE CLOTHES! AND THE PAINT! (crowd) But 'brothren', 'brothren', oh, that's where the 'lawd' stepped in! That's where the 'lawd' stepped in! He said, the lawd, to that man, you take that money, and you throw it in the river!" Rev. Harry Powell: "In the river!" Crowd: "IN THE RIVER!!"

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mrs. Icey Spoon (at the picnic, talking about sex in marriage): "A woman's a fool to marry for that. That's somethin' for a man. The Good Lord never meant for a decent woman to want that! Not really want it... It's all just a fake and a pipe dream..."

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mrs. Icey Spoon (at the picnic, talking about the conjugal bed): "When you've been married to a man for forty years you know all that don't amount to a hill of beans. I've been married to my Walt that long and I swear in all that time I just lie there thinkin' about my canning."

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

(Uncle) Birdie Steptoe ('sweetening' his coffee): "Man of my age needs a little snort in the morning, heat the boilers."

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Rachel Cooper (reading the Bible to children's heads, floating in outer space): "Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. (cut to children finding a corpse) A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore, by their fruits, ye shall know them." (cut to Rev. Harry Powell, tooling down the road in a stolen car)

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Rev. Harry Powell (singing): "Leaning... leaning... safe and secure from all alarms... Leaning... leaning... leaning on the everlasting arms..."


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May 16, 2014
  • garycornell rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is Robert Mitchums movie from start to finish. He is so complicated. One moment he seems as gentle as a puppy dog and the next moment just the look of his eyes scares you. Director Charles Laughton makes the most of Black and While film and the dark shadows in which so much of action takes place, just grips me to my seat. If I could I would give this more than five stars. I think you will agree once you see it for yourself. (See it alone and you being brave!)

Jul 28, 2013
  • hapiatlast rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Robert Mitchum as a creepy, murdering, "preacher". Great film directed by the great Charles Laughton. A must see for all Mitchum fans and those interested in black and white films.

Dec 17, 2012
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A sublime noir/thriller. This being the only film actor Charles Laughton directed, he was crushed when it effectively tanked at the box office due to poor marketing and (astonishing) critical panning. What a shame. He nailed down the ghostly, sinister imagery, the eeriness. Engaging characters - every one. Mitchum has creepy and slimy oozing out of his pores, (the Bible thumping preacher bit adds to his distastefulness). Varmint shootin', orphan scrubbin', butt kickin' legendary actress Lillian Gish is awesome, the feisty little sweetie. "A strong tree with branches for many birds" (and scared little children). I genuinely felt bad for son John and adorable little Pearl! A young Shelley Winters and Peter Graves... Tremendous flick, can't rate it high enough. The companion outtake dvd is a treasure, as well. A brilliant piece of preservation and inspiration by Mr. Robert Gitt and Ms. Nancy Mysel. Loved it, loved it, loved it. FIVE STARS.

Aug 18, 2012
  • kurasawa1 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Mitchum is a very bad man in this - he does it well - some of the other characters are also nicely drawn - especially the work of Shelley Winters as the confused, marginalized, overworked woman

Jun 11, 2012
  • Megmac12 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Leaning ;)

Charles Laughton's only film as director is a masterpiece of post-World War II cinema. Matching the searing intensity of its lead performances is the magnificent black-and-white cinematography of Stanley Cortez ("The Magnificent Ambersons"). Despite necessary censorship compromises, it remains a terrifying psychological drama. The "singing children" contribute to the unsettling atmosphere of fear, fanaticism, ignorance and violence and Laughton masterfully balances the dark tension with visually poetic images.


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