When unctuous Reverend Harry Powell (Mitchum) learns where a criminal has stashed some money, he literally casts an ominous shadow on their Depression-era home. Sharing fudge and hypocrisy at a Sunday picnic, Mitchum ingratiates himself to the gossipy locals, the naïve widow Willa (Winters) and her younger daughter Pearl. But John, the older boy, to whom his father entrusted the cash before his execution, is not fooled by Mitchum's charm, his baritone hymns, nor by the “L-O-V-E” and “H-A-T-E” tattooed across his knuckles.
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After Powell weds Willa, apparently for the children's benefit, he righteously denies her a wedding night, and soon murders her, concealing her body in the river. He then begins the sinister business of unearthing the money ("where's it hid?) in torment scenes which telegraph countless dark films to come (“ohhhh, chil-dren.)"
His menacing pursuit of the orphans includes an eerie cellar from which the children flee and a nightmarish rowboat scene.
When grandmotherly Rachel Gibson, marvelously played by Lillian Gish, takes the children into her home with four other waifs, kindness, discipline, and the Bible bring comfort. But they still must remain vigilant for the Reverend (“figured I was gone, huh?)" When she and John outsmart him, we learn how effective the Reverend's M.O. has been and how just his punishment. Charles Laughton's only directorial effort.
The review of this Movie prepared by Angry Jim Magin
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is the only movie directed by actor Charles Laughton in 1955. Robert Mitchum learns in prison that a great amount of money is hidden at Shelley Winter's home. He marries her and soon understands that only her children know where the money is. They will have to run away in order to save their lives. A unique masterpiece, a must.
The review of this Movie prepared by Daniel Staebler