The Night of the Hunter (1955)



Critic Consensus: Featuring Robert Mitchum's formidable performance as child-hunting preacher, The Night of the Hunter is a disturbing look at good and evil.

Movie Info

Adapted by James Agee from a novel by Davis Grubb, The Night of the Hunter represented legendary actor Charles Laughton's only film directing effort. Combining stark realism with Germanic expressionism, the movie is a brilliant good-and-evil parable, with "good" represented by a couple of farm kids and a pious old lady, and "evil" literally in the hands of a posturing psychopath. Imprisoned with thief Ben Harper (Peter Graves), phony preacher Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) learns that Ben has … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: James Agee
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 15, 2001
United Artists - Official Site


as Harry Powell

as Willa Harper

as Ben Harper

as Rachel

as Icey Spoon

as Birdie

as Walt Spoon

as Hangman Bart

as Young Man in Town
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Night of the Hunter

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Night of the Hunter

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (10)

One of the great movie horror tales, with one of the greatest of all movie villains.

Full Review… | October 14, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

It is a garish, unbelievable but fairly exciting nightmare.

Full Review… | October 7, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Ultimately the source of its style and power is mysterious -- it is a film without precedents, and without any real equals

Full Review… | August 28, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Mitchum is a dreamily terrifying presence, partly because he's filmed in menacing silhouette a good quarter of the time.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014

Mitchum gives one of cinema's greatest performances as a demented man who's one part preacher, one part murderer, and totally determined to track down a stash of stolen loot in the possession of two kids.

Full Review… | October 14, 2014
Christian Science Monitor

A classic that is beautifully restored to life, successfully mixing lightness and humour in a dark film that would even have Frankenstein's monster running for cover.

Full Review… | October 10, 2014
Birmingham Mail

Audience Reviews for The Night of the Hunter

Charles Laughton, the formidable British actor, after years in the trade, made one feature as a director and this is it, layered like a fat juicy onion. A criminal malcontent disguised as a preacher goes on the hunt for some stolen loot, killing all who stand in his way, and there's your plot, but along the way Laughton pauses to comment on many and various things, not the least of which is how a poetically told story resonates. Like maybe in the old silent films ... and there is where this simple tale takes joyous flight. Mitchum leads as the heavy, but there are many fine performances here. Shelley Winters, cast against type, is marvelous, and Lillian Gish ( in case you missed the homage to the silents) underlines the point.
And, after all these years, still as vibrant a work.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


This tense and bleak film noir, aesthetically mesmerizing and borrowing heavily from German Expressionism, is all the more surprising when you know that Laughton hated children - and while Mitchum is great as the expressionist villain, he seems though too one-dimensional to be truly menacing.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

The very definition of a film noir. Robert Mitchum is spectacular as psychotic preacher and serial killer Harry Powell. Few films actually earn the title "edge of your seat" but this dark and incredibly well made film by first (and only) time director Charles Laughton will certainly have you gripping both seat handles in suspense.

Edward Boxler

Super Reviewer

The Night of the Hunter Quotes

– Submitted by Don G (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Night of the Hunter on our Movie forum!