Review: ‘The Night of the Hunter’

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.

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.

The Night of the Hunter

Production

Gregory/United Artists. Director Charles Laughton; Producer Paul Gregory; Screenplay James Agee; Camera Stanley Cortez; Editor Robert Golden; Music Walter Schumann; Art Director Hilyard Brown

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1955. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Robert Mitchum Shelley Winters Lillian Gish Billy Chapin Peter Graves James Gleason
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  1. Hana Blum says:

    Terrible child actors. And stupid child characters. They’re running around with $10,000. but never use a cent of it to buy food or shelter as they’re trying to escape from their murderous stepfather. Nor do they ask anyone to call the police. Their interminable flight through charles Laughton’ s pretentious landscape – replete with a badly crocheted spiderweb – had me longing for them to be caught

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