CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

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: Evelyn Varden, Sally Ann Bruce, Lillian Gish, Robert Mitchum, Billy Chapin, Peter Graves, Shelley Winters
  • 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 The Overnighters

    The Overnighters

    Documentary filmmaker Jesse Moss follows Jay Reinke, a North Dakota pastor who braves the anger of his community by accommodating homeless, unemployed men in his church

  • Film4 The Babadook

    The Babadook

    Widowed mum Amelia (Essie Davis) finds caring for her wayward child Samuel (Noah Wiseman) a tall order. But shes more or less coping until a scary picture book about the mysterious Babadook starts to haunt this single parent family

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share