“It’s a hard world for little things.”
The story is about a religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid the $10,000, he’d stolen in a robbery.
‘The Night of the Hunter’ is a movie that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of dread in every frame. I went into this knowing only the small plot description (the same one above the paragraph), and certain shots that I have seen around on social media through film related sites. What surprised me the most is how uncomfortable and eerie the movie is, which at first, I wasn’t sure if it was just me that was experiencing this. But when it finally clicked with me, then I knew I was in for something...interesting. The character Harry Powell, an evil charlatan preacher who takes advantage of anyone in his sight, played brilliantly by Robert Mitchum. Mitchum is terrifying and the whole “preacher” thing is just a character he puts on to trick people. He talks with a strong commanding southern voice that makes his preachy words easily take control of anyone in his presence. Powell would do anything to get his filthy hands onto some money, even going as far as marrying the children's mother, a naive widow (played by Shelley Winters) who was hoping for some happiness in her life with Powell, but she's only a part of his scheme of things. He is the big bad wolf with a hypnotizing singing voice. There’s no other way of describing him; he’s just an evil son of a **** I will never forget that terrifying Satanic roar from the monster called Harry Powell.
Even if people haven’t seen the movie, but some may recognise the famous tattoo of 'L-O-V-E' on his left hand & 'H-A-T-E' on his right hand, where he tells an animated story of love and hate through his hands. The most visual way of showing love and hate at war with each other and I can see where director Spike Lee got the idea for the Radio Raheem scene in ‘Do the Right Thing’.
A great supporting performance from Lillian Gish as Rachael Cooper, a religious woman, who unlike Harry Powell, practices what she preaches and has a hard as nails, no nonsense attitude, but also shows a loving and caring nature towards the already traumatise children. If you want a strong female character that shows you that they are strong rather than telling you, then this is it. If you come around looking for trouble, then you better kiss your ass goodbye and say hello to a barrel **** when it’s pointed at your face by Mrs. Cooper. The scenes between her and Powell were the most fascinating aspects of the movie. This is the first and sadly only feature film directed by Charles Laughton, which is a tragedy that he never made another movie after this, because the fact this is his first stab at a motion picture, as he was mostly a stage and screen actor, is beyond impressive.
The cinematography by Stanley Cortez is excellent and Gothic, as he gets to play around with the lighting and shadows, especially one shot of a wheel of a car at the bottom of the river with a dead body in the vehicle, with the blonde wavy hair dancing gently in the water, which made it look like a painting **** fairy-tale, while it also feels strangely peaceful, but very Brother’s Grimm. I would imagine this must have been shocking for people back in 1955, the same how it’s still shocking today. The River Boat scene is another sequence that’s just candy to the eyes. What the movie does so brilliantly is how it makes you feel the sense of danger, even from a distance. There were a couple of times when I said “wow” at certain details and how it was executed. Movie magic baby! Overall rating: A marvellous mix of beauty and horror. Go check it out! It’s great!
Watched Feb 25, 2018
Matt Kerr’s review published on Letterboxd :
One month into my personal film-watching challenge and this may be the best film that I have discovered this month. Robert Mitchum's performance as the shadowy, terrifying Reverend Harry Powell is a reason to watch this movie alone. Love and hate tattooed to his knuckles, it is almost more terrifying to see him work his way into becoming a loved member of the community than it is to see his dark and murderous side unleashed. He haunts the screen with his presence, the shadows of his iconic hat and cheery sing-song lacing itself with the sinister undertone of his intent.
Fantastically scored and directed, and with one of the most terrifying and iconic villains of classic cinema, its no wonder that this film is rightfully revered as one of the all time greats, and with time may solidify itself as one of my all-time favourites.
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.
This start for Gregory as producer and Laughton as director is rich in promise but the completed product, bewitching at times, loses sustained drive via too many offbeat touches that have a misty effect.
I started to watch the new Netflix show Mindhunter on monday, I'm on episode 2 and I was talking with some guys on Facebook about serial killers and thrillers about them, I love the genre, it's one of my all-time favorites. Someone mentioned this film and while I've heard about it before, I never actually got the chance to watch it.
It has nothing to do with the show but the film is the adaptation of a novel inspired on a real-life serial killer.
And how is the film? it's incredible, it's so good, the story, the way in which was filmed, the noir style, the narrative, the performaces, especially Robert Mitchum, who's at the same time charming and a bastard, this film is really, really good.
Also something interesting is that while the film it's actually really old somehow it looks older, that doesn't mean it looks bad at all is just that the style doesn't fit to the style of other films I've seen from the 50's.
The Night of the Hunter it's a bleak film, I've heard some consider it a horror film and maybe it fits the category in some way but it's more a dramatic and suspenful experiencie than a horror one. Anyway, I really loved it.
I didnt like this movie much: Many scenes are looking very cheap and the characters are clear. Sure, the preacher is intelligent and his two face way to achieve his goals is interesting, but the rest are simple characters.
Fui arrastrado a la filmoteca a ver esta película, no porque no me guste este tipo de películas, este cine tan clásico, sino porque esta es la típica película que tiene un toque "moñas" que hace que no sea mi tipo de cine. He de decir que no me aburrí en ningún momento del metraje y se me pasó bastante rápido, ¿Quiere decir esto que me gustó la película? La respuesta es, en general, no. Hay alguna parte como allá por el final que se vuelve bastante oscura por momentos y, después, una vez vista tiene cositas interesantes que cuenta. Mitchum tampoco me impresionó demasiado, y los niños se pueden ir... Pero en definitiva, estoy contento de haberla visto, siempre es bueno ver este cine, aunque... NO ES MI TIPO DE CINE. Pero es un clásio la película, hay que verla.
Overall, this movie is a mess. It was badly acted, badly directed, and the plotting was plodding. Suspenseful? Give me a break. The child actors were especially annoying and the extras were just plain silly. I like classics, so it's not just that it's an old movie. This could easily be the worst movie I ever watched all the way through. I would give it a zero except for some interesting camera work (for which Laughton may or may not deserve credit).
There has never been a more overrated movie to ever waste space in a film reel. I'm pretty sure everyone who gives it a good review is attesting it solely on mitchum's acting. He carries the movie alone and even then, it still sinks to rock bottom. Every single other actor is annoying, incompetent, or both. The plot rarely resolves anything it introduces in the story, like it's dragging its legs over jagged rocks and not trying to correct this. The conclusion came from absolutely nowhere. It's like everyone who was apart of this was hired to make a movie together and none of them had actually seen one before. This whole thing worked better as a novel where you don't have to accordion everything into a short 2 hour video and rely on actors to convey the work. I give it a 1 because mitchum wasn't God-awful in this.