Part Gothic horror, part fairy tale, part German expressionist film, Night of the Hunter (GD978, in Blu-Ray from Criterion) is surely one of the most unusual mainstream films I’ve ever seen. Robert Mitchum is creepy, creepy, creepy, as a charismatic and murderous itinerant preacher who goes up against the fabulous Lillian Gish, great star of silent films, in his quest for stolen money hidden, unbeknownst to him, in a little girl’s doll. Two young children, John and Pearl, literally go on a voyage to escape Mitchum’s Harry Powell. A fascinating story told largely from the children’s point of view, the haunting sets and cinematography are just as good as the frightening morality tale played out on the screen. The only film ever directed by Charles Laughton, Night of the Hunter will have you on the edge of your seat. Turn out the lights, turn off your phone, watch and enjoy!
Once you’ve seen the film (you don’t want to spoil the story, after all), take a look at International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers in the Greenfield Library reference section. Great for browsing and revisiting favorite films. You might also want to see The Encyclopedia of Novels into Film, which gives some behind-the-scenes background on the adaptation of the script.