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Night of the Hunter (1955)

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  • Night of the Hunter (1955)

    My favourite Mitchum film, next to Cape Fear. Also the one and only film that established actor Charles Laughton would direct. It was met with a whole lot of negative publicity when it came out, and he never directed another, dying before it was realized as a near-perfect noir.

    I love just about everything in Night of the Hunter. The simple sets, the acting, the writing...for an example of how you do awesome for next to no money, check out the scene where Mitchum's silhouette is seen riding a horse across the horizon whilst singing hymns. Creepy as hell, and powerful as all get-out. So many frames of this film could be captured and displayed as artwork....the "underwater driving" scene, for example.

    Of course, Mitchum is what makes the film work....his performance is chilling. The fact that he's going after two children makes it even more unsettling, the scene where the two are trying to get into the boat a great example of edge-of-your-seat suspense.

    really, the only weak part is the final act with Lillian Gish, which is no slam against just doesn't match the intensity found earlier in the film, and never really recovers from the side story to take advantage of the conclusion.

    The Criterion blu-ray is something else, with tons of features, the best one being Charles Laughton Directs; essentially the footage that was captured on-set, as Laughton was known to leave the camera running the whole time. Different takes, his exchanges with the actors, all preserved.

    Quite amazing film. My favourite noir.

  • #2
    Sorry, that's not next to Cape Fear meaning that I choose Cape Fear over it....they're very similar as far as Mitchum's performances, but Night Of The Hunter would be my pick for the best.


    • #3
      I still have to watch this one.
      "Ah! By god's balls what licentiousness!"

      Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom.


      • #4
        Yes you do.

        I like it better than Cape Fear too. Not by much, but by enough for it to get the edge.

        I picked up on a lot more of the subtle background bits this time around, some of which I guess I just missed or forgot about during earlier viewings. It really is a very clever film and yeah, so slick looking. I completely agree about the set ups and the framing, the underwater 'driving scene' is some freaky shit, and such perfect use of shadow throughout the movie.

        Mitchum is fantastic in it, of course, and completely makes the movie but the supporting cast are great too. I don't have a problem with Gish's character. I think it brings the movie to a logical conclusion - BUT I can see why others would be put off by it. I can also see why it flopped when it came out because it's a pretty bizarre movie.
        Rock! Shock! Pop!


        • #5
          Also, I would like to own this poster because it's super cool.

          Click image for larger version

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          • #6
            It really is a one of a kind film. The photography is simply amazing. I agree Ian, it's easy to see why this tanked originally - it was probably too offbeat and yes, disturbing.

            Ian, if you ever get to take a look at HOUSE BY THE RIVER, see if you don't think certain water-set shots possibly influenced this (HOUSE came out a few years earlier).
            I don't go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.


            • #7
              Andrew - I had it in my hands at Kim's on Sun. but decided I didn't want to pay $25 for it.

              Will take it on to my next Amazon order for sure.
              Rock! Shock! Pop!


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ian Jane View Post
                Andrew - I had it in my hands at Kim's on Sun. but decided I didn't want to pay $25 for it.
                Perfectly understandable, that price stings. Kino discs have always been among the priciest non-Criterions.
                I don't go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.


                • #9
                  Kino announced a UHD is in the works.
                  Rock! Shock! Pop!


                  • #10
                    I saw that, and it's mine when it comes out. I love this film.


                    • #11
                      Coming May 30th on 4KUHD!

                      THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)
                      • Brand NEW HDR/Dolby Vision Master
                      • NEW Audio Commentary by Novelist & Critic Tim Lucas
                      • NEW Interviews with Filmmaker Ernest Dickerson, Actress Kathy Garver and Artist Joe Coleman
                      • And More

                      Click image for larger version

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                      • #12
                        Mark Tolch
                        Senior Member
                        Last edited by Mark Tolch; 03-17-2023, 02:34 PM.