The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Article #376 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 3-26-2002
Posting date: 8-19-2002

A homicidal preacher terrorizes some children in the hope of getting them to reveal where ten thousand dollars of stolen money is hidden.

Charles Laughton only took to directing once in his career; it’s a crying shame he stopped with one. The one he left us is fascinating, at once terrifying and lyrical, it’s a nightmare/fable/fairy tale, as scary for adults as it is for children. Robert Mitchum’s performance is stunning; his preacher is perhaps the most terrifying psycho in movie history, partially because we know what he’s capable of and partially because we know how effectively he can deceive those around him. Lillian Gish also gives an impressive performance as the frail old woman who still has the will and the power to stand up to the preacher; you want to stand up and cheer when she says “and he ain’t no preacher, either” and chases him off the farm with her shotgun. This is an amazing movie, one of a kind, almost biblical in its portrayal of hope and strength standing up in the face of omnipresent evil.


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