The Night of The Hunter
Cinema Retro linked to a fine Roger Ebert tribute to Charles Laughton's The Night of The Hunter. Here's the opening:
It's a thin line between LOVE and HATE.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
by Roger Ebert / November 24, 1996
cast & credits
Rev. Harry Powell: Robert Mitchum
Willa Harper: Shelley Winters
Rachel: Lillian Gish
John: Billy Chapin
Pearl: Sally Jane Bruce
Birdie: James Gleason
Icey: Evelyn Varden
Ben Harper: Peter Graves
Walt: Don Beddoe
Directed by Charles Laughton and produced by Paul Gregory. Screenplay by James Agee and Charles Laughton, based on the novel by Davis Grubb. Running time: 93 minutes. No MPAA rating. (Recommended for mature audiences).
Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter'' (1955) is one of the greatest of all American films, but has never received the attention it deserves because of its lack of the proper trappings. Many ``great movies'' are by great directors, but Laughton directed only this one film, which was a critical and commercial failure long overshadowed by his acting career. Many great movies use actors who come draped in respectability and prestige, but Robert Mitchum has always been a raffish outsider. And many great movies are realistic, but ``Night of the Hunter'' is an expressionistic oddity, telling its chilling story through visual fantasy. People don't know how to categorize it, so they leave it off their lists.
Yet what a compelling, frightening and beautiful film it is! And how well it has survived its period. Many films from the mid-1950s, even the good ones, seem somewhat dated now, but by setting his story in an invented movie world outside conventional realism, Laughton gave it a timelessness. Yes, the movie takes place in a small town on the banks of a river. But the town looks as artificial as a Christmas card scene, the family's house with its strange angles inside and out looks too small to live in, and the river becomes a set so obviously artificial it could have been built for a completely stylized studio film like "Kwaidan" (1964).
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