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 semi-mainstream films you’ll ever see. 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, go on a voyage to escape Mitchum’s Harry Powell. A fascinating story seen from a child’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 Simon Callow’s book, Night of the Hunter (Greenfield Open Stacks 701.4372 N521c), from the British Film Institute Classics series. A noted actor (he played Emanuel Schickaneder in Amadeus and Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral), Callow is also a wonderful author, and this slim volume focuses a great deal on Charles Laughton and the production of the film.