A stunning work of Southern Gothic and one of the rare Fifties Hollywood films that manages to feel strikingly avant garde. One can sense its far-reaching influence on filmmakers like David Lynch. Aided by moody, Expressionistic lighting and a healthy dose of irony, "The Night of the Hunter" is one of the best works of art about Christian hypocrisy and the duality of man outside the writing of Flannery O'Connor.
It accomplishes the near impossible: It sets a fairy-tale during the Great Depression and balances the fantastic and the sorrow. Admittedly, it took me a second viewing before I stopped thinking that the child actors were bad and I'm sure others will have the same issue. If I had to point it's best asset, it would be the mise en scene (lighting especially) which gives Mitchum's preacher the aura of the grim reaper.
The Night of the Hunter is an American classic. Former Orson Welles collaborator Stanley Cortez’s vivid black-and-white cinematography perfectly accentuates the film's mood, especially the use of shadows and formalist lighting. It's a shame Charles Laughton never directed another film.
Director of just one film, a wonderful film, but since quantity is no criterion, never will be, it belongs, in all fairness, in this choice of favorite filmmakers. And is in "con le armi della poesia" not because of Mitchum, as the pick shows, but because of the great Lilian Gish, in her final immense moment. And also because of Shelley Winters eyes of fear for the big bad wolf.
Superb thriller (and somewhat a children’s tale) with incredible dreamlike cinematography. Also, Robert Mitchum and his unmistakable cynical look as a malevolent figure of religious quackery and fanaticism? Priceless. And poor Shelley Winters, playing the unloved widow condemned to death as in Kubrick’s Lolita.
While Robert Mitchum is indeed praiseworthy, the rest of the movie is completely at ends with itself. The film is gripping, but atrocious overacting from the rest of the cast and a melodramatic story that starts as the study of a deranged religious man and becomes religious propaganda really ruined my enjoyment of it.
An amazing film that 9 out of 10 times would be a complete train wreck, even in the hands of far more experienced directors than Laughton. His adroit balancing of the fairytale aspects with the more prosaic passages is one of the greatest achievments in cinema. Its probing into Puritanical religion and its implicit critique as to the credence society gives to religious figures remains relevant.