Friday, 12 December 2014

''The Night of the Hunter'' (1955 movie)- Review

Directed by: Charles Laughton
Released: 1955
Country: United States

Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, Billy Chaplin, Evelyn Warden, Peter Graves, Sally Jane Bruce

Genres: Thriller, Crime, Drama, Film noir

Rating: 5 out of 5


There are probably very few villains whom I hated in the way I hated Harry Powell, the antagonist of the film ''The Night of the Hunter''. And, there are very few films that I loved as much as I loved ''The Night of the Hunter''. Scary, thrilling, suspenseful, and at the same time, gorgeous and magnificent, this is one of the greatest films I have ever watched.

What is the most memorable thing about this film? The storyline, the scary plot and the suspenseful and extremely frightening moments? The beautiful cinematography? The beautiful backgrounds and settings? The excellent performance from the talented cast? Everything is memorable, everything is unforgettable. It is the combination of all these that makes it one of the films that you can never forget. While it is one of the most thrilling and suspenseful films I have ever watched, it is also one of the most sublimely beautiful and captivating films I have ever watched.

Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is secretly a serial killer while claiming himself to be a preacher. He is arrested as he was driving a stolen car. In the prison, he happens to meet Ben Harper (Peter Graves), a man who, in order to financially support his wife and two young children, robbed a bank, and had to kill two people. Harper tells Powell that he had hid the stolen money, and that his two young children are the only people who know where the money is hidden. Harper is hanged. Soon, Powell is released. He plans to get hold of the money by persuading Harper's children to tell him where the money is actually hidden. He goes to the little village where Harper's widow and two children live, and using his charm and amiable behavior he manages to impress everybody and ultimately persuades Harper's widow, Willa, to marry him... But his true intention is to get hold of the money, and when the children refuse to tell him the location of the hidden money, he gets violent, he reveals his terrifying true colors, bringing in bloodshed and torture... He will go to any length to get hold of the money, even if he has to kill or torture people for that..  How will the two little children get rid of his torture, of the horror of his mere presence? 

Oh, what a magnificent gem of a film it was! It is definitely one of the scariest films I have ever watched. It indeed is. And oh, the antagonist, Harry Powell. He is definitely one of the villains whom I hated with all my heart. He is one of the scariest villains I have ever come across. Robert Mitchum gives a powerful performance that definitely remains unforgettable.

Lillian Gish plays Rachel Cooper, an elderly woman who provides John and Pearl with shelter after they run away, and does her best to protect the two children. Thirty-six years before the film was made, this very woman played a helpless girl who was oppressed by her father in one of the most heartbreaking films I have ever watched, ''Broken Blossoms''. Thirty-six years after ''Broken Blossoms'', this woman gave a powerful performance in ''The Night of the Hunter''. This time she played a powerful and righteous woman who stands up against all injustices, all oppressions.

And yes, the two children, Billy Chaplin and Sally Jane Bruce, are excellent and powerful in their roles as John and Pearl, respectively.

And oh, the cinematography. The beautiful images. These make the film so atmospheric, so beautiful-looking, these give the film nearly a Gothic, dark, and sublime atmosphere. There are scenes that are unforgettable because of their beauty, their excellent atmosphere, their beautiful cinematography. I must mention those scenes where we see John and Pearl rowing, amidst the darkness of the night. The water, their boat, and all the animals watching them (frogs, foxes, etc.) all these make these scenes so beautiful. There is a scene where Pearl sings a song on the boat, while John is deep asleep, and we get glimpses of the water, the frogs that are watching them. Sublime. Magnificent. These two words easily sum up my thoughts about the cinematography.

One of the greatest films I have ever watched, ''The Night of the Hunter'' is frightening, it is beautiful, it is magnificent. A scary and atmospheric  film with excellent cinematography, excellent performances and great screenplay, it is a must watch.

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