Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • X
  • Drama, Film-Noir
  • 1955
  • 93 mins

The Night Of The Hunter

Film4 The Night Of The Hunter

Synopsis

Robert Mitchum stars in this deeply creepy and maddeningly tense 50s thriller as a maniacal preacher who stalks a couple of children as he searches for hidden loot.

About

Described by Laughton as a "nightmarish Mother Goose", this profoundly disturbing psychodrama marked both the beginning and the end of his career as a director. Driven by a performance by Mitchum that goes a long way to defining on-screen evil, both tone and tale are absolutely compelling throughout.

The complicated plot has a logic all its own but the central story follows psychopathic preacher Harry Powell (Mitchum) as he searches obsessively for the $10,000 hidden by a condemned convict. Marrying then murdering the dead man's wife (Winters), he swiftly turns his attention to her kids (Chapin and Bruce), pursuing them to a conclusion of mythical proportions.

Met with bemusement at the time of its release, the creepy atmosphere gives rise to some extraordinarily eerie images. There's Shelley Winters, dead in her car at the bottom of a river, hair swirling about her face. There's Mitchum, knuckles tattooed with the words 'Love' and 'Hate', casting a shadow across the kids' bedroom wall. And there's the hallucinatory boat trip with its oversized flora and fauna undertaken by the children as they try to escape.

Drawing on sources as diverse as German Expressionism and rural American fable, this is a strange, tense and at times dream-like film that still sends a shiver down the spine.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Shelley Winters, Robert Mitchum, Peter Graves, Sally Ann Bruce, Lillian Gish, Evelyn Varden, Billy Chapin
  • Director: Charles Laughton
  • Writer: James Agee
  • Producer: Paul Gregory
  • Photographer: Stanley Cortez
  • Composer: Walter Schumann

In a nutshell

An overlooked gem in the history of American film, this creepy curio incorporates elements of horror, noir, thriller and fairy tale. All involved seem to understand what's required but Mitchum's satanic preacher is exemplary.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Apache Territory

    Western with Rory Calhoun. A drifter finds himself in charge of a desperate stand against Apache warriors who are determined to either expel incomers from their domain or kill them.

    On Film4: 31 May 11:00AM

  • Film4

    I Wish

    Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda's critically acclaimed, charming drama explores the lives of two young brothers whose parents have separated.

    On Film4: 31 May 1:00AM

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House 2016

    Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London¿s groundbreaking open-air film festival, returns between 4-17 August, with a prestigious programme of classic and contemporary films, and a total of thr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4-backed film deals at Cannes 2016

    In addition to Andrea Arnold's American Honey taking home the Jury Prize, Film4 are thrilled to report that a number of deals were announced for Film4-backed films in Cannes... THE KILLING OF

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share