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Review Blog

The Night of the Hunter

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on August 29, 2011 at 5:05 PM


Charles Laughton


IDEA:  A villainous fundamentalist preacher in the Depression-era sets his sights on two children with an inherited, stolen cache of $10,000.

BLURB:  A gnarled, bewitching Gothic folktale painted in dense foreboding shadows. The play of light is ingenious, the images startlingly unforgettable, and the largely writ themes of religion, innocence, corruption and evil boldly in the forefront. With Robert Mitchum’s malicious preacher and Lillian Gish’s saintly surrogate mother, the film becomes an archetypal play between powerful elemental forces, both shared in the same religious system but working on polar opposite moral grounds. At stake are the parentless children in the middle, whose honest, unspoken resilience becomes a sacred reverie most astonishingly captured in a late night river journey, a sequence of real visual and thematic power. If there’s some trouble here, it’s that the child actors are just short of awful, a particular setback when the story is essentially all about them. Why it works regardless is because the unique aesthetic delivery is wholly absorbing, creating a world rustling with fearsome – yet finally benevolent – sights.

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About the Author

Jonathan Leithold-Patt is a cinephile, film critic, and artist.

Contact at [email protected]

Devoted to the Movies