The Night of the Hunter [Movie review by the Drudgeon]

The Night of the Hunter93 min., 1955
Directed by Charles Laughton
My rating: ★★★★
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Wanna hear the story of L.O.V.E. and H.A.T.E.?

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The story begins with a man by the name of Ben Harper (Peter Graves) who has just robed something or someone and he hides the money somewhere that only his two kids, John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jan Bruce), knows.  He is arrested, tossed in jail and sentenced to death because he killed two men.  While in jail he meets a preacher named Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) who is in jail for stealing a car, but we learn that he has a habit of killing women and taking their money.  He learns that Ben has a lot of money hidden and Harry gets a great idea.  Upon his release Harry heads to the now widowed Willa Harper (Shelley Winters) and starts to win her over to the point where they end up getting married.  Now that Harry is John and Pearls father will they reveal where the money is hidden or will Harry have to go a step farther for the information?

There are very few special effects in the movie, but there are times where the ones used are just great.  A good example is when the car in underwater.  I just look beautiful.  What it comes down to is the camera usage itself.  There are numerous shots that are just gorgeous and the screen is beautifully filled.

The thing that surprised me most about the movie is that as hammy or bizarre as the dialogue seems to the modern ear, it actually seems to make perfect sense with the time period.  It takes some getting used to and there are times where you probably will start to laugh, but at the same time it just fits so well.  Along with that there is a point and time where John runs to his adult friend Birdie Steptoe (James Gleason) and the thing is that before this Birdie had been drinking and got completely wasted.  Now in modern movies when the child runs to the drunk for help they always seem to snap out of it and are able to help out, but instead Birdie is passes out and doesn’t help at all.  Talk about a big surprise with that one.  That’s what the whole movie is, one big surprise.  There are parts that don’t hold up so well, but the parts that do make you completely forget about it.  On top of that you have the extremely creepy Robert Mitchum as the always calm, cool and collected preacher.  There are very few villains that make an ordinary man that creepy and on top of that he’s not one of those villains that hide in the shadows.  No, you know from the beginning exactly how he is and what he is capable of and sometimes that’s more terrifying than those who hide their intentions.  This movie is still great and every horror fan should check it out at least once.

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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2 Responses to The Night of the Hunter [Movie review by the Drudgeon]

  1. John Bruni says:

    “Oh children . . . .”

  2. Robin Franson Pruter says:

    The visuals are beautiful. One might expect an actor of Laughton’s caliber to have a gift directing the acting, but that he would show such a knack for composition is more surprising. That he never directed another movie is a shame. I find it odd that he just created this unusual little masterpiece and never tried directing anything else.

    You failed to mention how wonderful Lillian Gish is in this movie. She had limited success in talkies, but her performances are always worth watching. She’s at her most powerful here. I would have certainly chosen her over Jo Van Fleet to win the Supporting Actress Oscar, but she wasn’t even nominated.

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