The Night of the Hunter

Screening on Film
Directed by Charles Laughton.
With Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Shelley Winters.
US, 1955, 35mm, black & white, 93 min.
Print source: HFA

The sole directorial effort by actor Charles Laughton, The Night of the Hunter is regarded as one of the most original and strikingly poetic films to have emerged from the Hollywood studio years. Magnificently rendered in atmospheric black-and-white cinematography by Stanley Cortez, this dreamlike, near expressionistic fable, set in a small West Virginia community during the Depression, concerns two children who are pursued by a madman-preacher (Mitchum). The film is replete with indelible images, most famously that of the psychotic preacher with L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E tattooed on his knuckles. Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, it was adapted for the screen by James Agee. As the self-styled preacher Harry Powell, Robert Mitchum gives one of his best performances and delivers a hauntingly sinister rendition of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."

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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive: N–R