In short, The Night of the Hunter is an American movie classic. It is also an utter original. This sense of originality was largely lost on movie audiences when The Night of the Hunter was first released in Though the Davis Grubb novel on which the film was based was a bestseller, and critical notices were excellent, audiences shied away from its spectacular horrors set against the bleak vistas of Depression-era America.
Copy Link The Night of the Hunter —the first film directed by Charles Laughton and also, sadly, the last—is among the greatest horror movies ever made, and perhaps, of that select company, the most irreducibly American in spirit. These Depression-era West Virginia kids, John Harper Billy Chapin and his little sister, Pearl Sally Jane Bruceorphaned by the recent death of both their parents, light out on the river in a tiny boat to escape the grasping hands of their stepfather, one Harry Powell Robert Mitchum.
In flight, John and Pearl just go where the gentle current takes them, sleeping when they can and meandering past other small creatures, who seem to be watching over them anxiously from the riverbank: Laughton, in his midfifties at the time of filming, had been a very famous actor on the stage and screen in his native England for nearly three decades, and a prominent usually flamboyant character actor in Hollywood since the thirties.
Even for someone as experienced in the theatrical arts as Laughton, though, The Night of the Hunter presented some pretty formidable challenges. The novel, written by the West Virginian Davis Grubb, tells a strong, uncomplicated story, but in an idiom with which readers and filmgoers were still not entirely familiar: But inthe southern style, redolent of strange sex, bad booze, old-time religion, and the collective regional memory of defeat, was for the general public fairly exotic stuff.
And after the new Mrs. Powell comes to her untimely and unnatural end, and the children flee, the story becomes a simple chase, the black-clad demon harrowing the innocents, pursuing them with all his unholy ardor.
In approaching this unusual material, Laughton made several remarkably canny decisions right at the start, beginning with his choice of screenwriter: James Agee, the Tennessee-bred journalist, fiction writer, and film critic who had a few years before supplied John Huston with the elegant script for The African Queen Agee was steeped not only in the right kind of southern sensibility but also in the work of the silent-film pioneer D.
The black-and-white imagery of The Night of the Hunter is in a different, more deliberately archaic style from that of the Welles film, keyed to the basic emotions of love and fear, just as the great silent movies were.
The sequences she appears in, near the end of the picture, have a tone that borders on reverence. But Mitchum as the alarming preacher is a really daring bit of counterintuitive casting.
For the previous ten years or so, he had been perhaps the coolest and toughest of film noir heroes. With his loose, lazy walk, his somnolent eyes, and his deep, buttery drawl, he always gave the impression of a man who could not be fazed, even in the direst circumstances.
Harry Powell is not that sort of character. His Harry Powell is a man whose composure masks the most unruly impulses—imperfectly capped wells of lust and greed and violence that tend to leak in moments of crisis, and not in attractive ways.
When Miz Cooper threatens him with a shotgun, he hops away, whooping like a big skittish animal. Small things have to run; the larger beasts are expected to stand their ground.
Maybe the most radical aspect of The Night of the Hunter, and its least appreciated virtue, is its sense of humor. More conventional horror movies overdo the solemnity of evil. Laughton and Mitchum treat evil with the indignity it deserves.
It was an abject flop at the box office, and Laughton never directed another film.‘Night of the Hunter’ (Charles Laughton, ) is a prime example of a film that uses aspects of Mise-en-Scene to sway the audience’s opinions of characters and their Words - Pages 5 Essay about Mind Hunter.
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At the beginning of the game, . Effective Use of Montage in the Movie, The Night of the Hunter Essay - Effective Use of Montage in the Movie, The Night of the Hunter A rapid succession of images or scenes that exhibits different aspects of the same idea or situation, this is the definition of montage as provided by Encarta Encyclopedia ’ The Night of the Hunter was released on DVD by MGM Home Entertainment in On November 16, , the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD by The Criterion Collection in association with the University of California, Los Angeles film archive.
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