The Night of the Hunter Reviews
The Night of The Hunter at its core is about the infinite battle between good and evil, and how one always eventually triumphs over the other. The message of this never ending battle is shown throughout the entire film. From Powells tattooed knuckles, reading love and hate, to the the final confrontation between the kind old woman, and Powell. The film also seems to have a message about the selfishness and corruptibility of humans. Powell believes that god agrees with his actions, but only because he's twisted everything in his own odd way. He is someone who was corrupted by the world long ago. John and Pearl on the other hand, the two young kids, are completely innocent, too young to have felt the corruption that the world they live in offers. This makes the encounter with the preacher even more frightening for them. By the end of the film Johns innocence is almost completely gone, and he just wishes the money never existed in the first place. It's almost a twisted coming of age story by the end.
The film, despite a slow, plot heavy beginning is worth watching. It uses shadows and the black and white format brilliantly, helping to create some creepy, unsettling scenes and imagery. Robert Mitchum is great as Powell, and the child actors do a solid job as well. Laughton does a great job directing, especially for a first film, thanks in no small part to Stanley Cortez's beautiful cinematography. Night of The Hunter was actually a critical and commercial failure on release in 1955, criticized for its taboo themes, and mixing of genres. This was extremely discouraging to Laughton, and stopped him from ever trying his hand at directing again. It's an absolute shame considering how well regarded the film has become over the last twenty years. It was sadly just a film that needed its audience to be a little more accepting, and open minded then they were at the time.
Charles Laughton directs the film effectively with a lot of technical expertise and he's the real star here. Mitchum is good, but not as great as the critics claim to be. The film is not disturbing, neither is its central character because you always get a predictable PG-13 feel from it. It did have a good story that just didn't rely too much on cliches.
Frighteningly powerful film with arguably Mitchum's finest performance as "priest" who lies his way to get what he wants, he even stalks his own step-children to get his hands on filthy money. Stark, haunting