The relentless terror of Davis Grubb’s novel got away from Paul Gregory and Charles Laughton in their translation of Night of the Hunter. 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.
Straight story telling without the embellishments, it would seem, might have rammed home with frightening force the horror of this man’s diabolical quest of a hanged murderer’s $10,000 which he wants to use in serving his fancied Lord. It builds fine with suspense ingredients to a fitting climax.
Robert Mitchum intermittently shows some depth in his interpretation of the preacher but in instances where he’s crazed with lust for the money, there’s barely adequate conviction.