The Night of the Hunter - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Night of the Hunter Reviews

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March 6, 2016
When you watch a film directed by a Welles or a Hitchcock, you know that you're about to see a great film. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is a very different story. This is a first-time director, child actors, a scenery-chewing villain, pre-established source material, and a backwoods setting. In many cases throughout film history these elements have amounted to something strange or just downright repugnant. Not here. Here, the combined efforts of the great Charles Laughton, the great Robert Mitchum, and the great Stanley Cortez all add up to a film so good that it's difficult to compliment it without simply regurgitating what other, more qualified people have already said before.

Simply put, if you're an aspiring filmmaker looking to direct a thriller or a suspense tale, don't look to books or articles or pontification, but rather seek out two things as the models for how to properly tell a suspense story: the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and the film (singular) of Charles Laughton. This is a film so dark and strange that the whole affair's overall mystery rivals even that of its own antagonist. See it.
½ February 25, 2016
The Night of the Hunter is astounding. It's a frightening, almost dream-like fairy-tale brought to life by the absolutely gorgeous cinematography and Robert Mitchum's terrifying portrayal of a wolf in sheep's clothing.
February 14, 2016
I am going against the grain here but I thought this movie was a big disappointment. I blame Laughton's direction primarily, but the script was also to blame. All of the characters in this movie were extremely one dimensional, which was compounded by them breaking the fourth wall (often as they talked to God but it was really the audience) to explain their motives and feelings in the most simple and straightforward manner. Everything they did or wanted to do was projected so far in advance, and was usually so simple minded and obvious anyway, I felt a constant feeling of frustration as the movie progressed. The audience is never given a chance to think for themselves. Laughton's direction is heavy handed, with overdone set pieces and film school symbolism. The entire film lacks a sense of continuity, as if it were assembled in the cutting room from isolated takes where the director was feeding the actor's the lines as he wanted them to be read. I am a big fan of Mitchum, but here he feels stiff and unconvincing. Who would believe him for a second? The plot wouldn't move forward one inch unless it weren't filled with inane characters constantly making dumb decisions. If you want to see Mitchum evoke some convincing menace, rent Cape Fear.
February 4, 2016
A gorgeously photographed clunker. Its "classic" status baffles me. Some good sequences, though.
January 26, 2016
The cinematography is masterful especially for its time, but the film lacks the suspense I was looking for. It's overacted by Robert Mitchum, although he will creep you out. I think it's a little overrated, but it is a decent film to see once. (First and only viewing - 1/4/2015)
January 21, 2016
With fully rounded characters as part of the suspenseful scripting and wonderful camerawork, this is a tale that looks at the what-ifs of deceipt and fraud through preachers, even if it doesn't come with the most timeless filmmaking.
½ January 3, 2016
With a intense scary performance comes a cry interesting dark film directed well and acted great comes a movie that you leaves feeling very not sure when you finish watching it
December 28, 2015
El actor Charles Laughton tan solo dirigió una película en su vida y esa cinta, llamada "The Night Of The Hunter" es, definitivamente, una de las mejores en la historia del cine. Un cuento hermoso onírico, simbólico y a la vez aterrador con un Robert Mitchum amenazante y lleno de odio y una Lilian Gish dispuesta a defender la inocencia y el amor a toda costa. Una fotografía de Stanley Cortez fuera de serie enmarca este cuento gótico norteamericano.
½ December 28, 2015
Interesante aunque no me resulta fascinante.
December 25, 2015
It's a hard world for little things.

A jailed religious fanatic is told the tale from his prison mate of $10,000 he robbed and hid that only his children know where it remains. The inmate dies and the fanatic is released from prison. He hunts down the widow of the inmate and marries her. The religious fanatic will stop at nothing to convince the children to tell him where the money is.

"I'm a strong tree with branches for many birds."

Charles Loughton, director of The Man on the Eiffel Tower, delivers The Night of the Hunter. The storyline for this picture is very compelling with numerous thrilling aspects. The acting is mesmerizing and the script is so clever and intense. I adored how the story came together and Robert Mitchum was brilliant as the main character. The cast also includes Shelley Winter, Peter Graves, Billy Chapin, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, and Don Beddoe.

"I'm the one your mother believes."

I came across this some time ago on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and had to DVR it. I loved how intense and consistent Mitchum was throughout the movie. There were some chances for some awkward moments, but Mitchum's character twisted and turned like a fish. I strongly recommend seeing this underrated classic.

"You poor, disgusting, little wretch."

Grade: A
December 6, 2015
Another movie whose classic reputation is strongly justified.

Robert Mitchum is famously menacing in this movie. Mitchum had a special brand of menacing, with his eyes half-open, as if his sociopathy ran so deep, he could barely stay awake while he murdered you. His Reverend Powell is chillingly seamless in shifting from murderous threats to sonorous righteousness. Mitchum holds back his rage, always playing the long game, always in control of his emotions, always focused on his objective. Truly one of the great villains in movie history.

But Laughton's expressionistic style puts a bit of a Brechtian gloss on the immediate menace in the story. The beauty of the exquisite frame compositions belie the terrifying stakes of the story it's telling. It gives the viewer a chance to catch his breath, something few good thrillers let the viewer do (or if they do, it's to set up a boogeyman with a chainsaw around the next corner). The pacing is deliberate and patient, but never dragging. There is a reason few thrillers pace themselves in this way, and such pacing can easily backfire on a director. But happily, Laughton had enough faith in his vision to maintain its pacing, and it results in a unique cinematic experience.

In the end, all it took to defeat Reverend Powell is for someone to see him for what he is, and Lillian Gish's Rachel Cooper was such a person. One suspects that a real life Powell would have no problem overpowering an old woman half his size, and wouldn't depend on a little switchblade when looking into the barrel of a rifle. But this movie is part thriller, part allegory. The characters aren't realistic, they represent archetypes. I generally prefer movies about breathing humans rather than allegorical types, but this movie is so visually gorgeous and emotionally engrossing, it earns the latitude of figurative representation.

In one of her charming little homilies, Rachel Cooper sweetly asserts that "Children abide." It's a comforting notion that hungry little children alone in the world manage to survive, that the Lord looks after children and drunks. But it's not true. Children starve all the time. That is a cold hard fact. Despite her assertions, Rachel knows that, which is why she unhesitatingly takes in two more children in need. She is the angel of this story. A quick glance around the world reveals that angels are in desperately short supply these days.
½ December 1, 2015
Solid, tense first half. Dialogue in the second half gets a little hammy. Robert Mitchum is one of the greats, and I love him as a bad guy.
November 22, 2015
Brilliant early psychological horror.
November 19, 2015
Dark. Demented. Excellent.
November 13, 2015
An incredibly well shot and acted piece of cinema.
November 11, 2015
There's not much tension to be found here. Basically, it's about this little boy and girl who escape from a conniving dad to a home where a group of kids are safe, peaceful, and pretty happy at last. Yes, there are some sad moments with the kids, but there's not much conflict to be found here. I was expecting a movie where the kids would be chase by this hunter all the time but it wasn't.

So, kind of boring. And the little girl was a bit annoying and selfish. Even I didn't care what happened to the little boy. They both were pretty annoying characters trying to escape from a dad who's killed his own wife and now they're alone, trying to live a happy life. Performance of cute Pearl was adequate.
November 10, 2015
Completely overrrated IMO. However, I can still appreciate it for it's influence, amazing cinematography and Robert Mitchum's performance but to me it is one of those 'classic films' that are to much trapped in the timeperiod that it was made and has just not aged well.

So in my mind not a classic, but an important film nonetheless in terms of influence.
October 19, 2015
100/A+. It's a Masterpiece of Cinema !
October 9, 2015
The Night of the Hunter is a gorgeously rendered and intelligently assembled piece of American cinema and a powerful look at the corruptible nature of religion. It's a shame Laughton never directed anything after this; his eye for expressionistic and slightly surreal visuals and his effective use of sentimentality combine two qualities that aren't often paired, making something unique, romantic, and unforgettable in the process. This brand of filmmaking would've been a welcome addition to the American film industry and deserved to be explored further.
October 4, 2015
What really makes this movie the classic it is, it's due to Robert Mitchum's astonish and brutal performance that keeps the film moving forward.
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