A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
It's the Great Depression. In the process of robbing a bank of $10,000, Ben Harper kills two people. Before he is captured, he is able to convince his adolescent son John and his daughter Pearl not to tell anyone, including their mother Willa, where he hid the money, namely in Pearl's favorite toy, a doll that she carries everywhere with her. Ben, who is captured, tried and convicted, is sentenced to death. But before he is executed, Ben is in the state penitentiary with a cell mate, a man by the name of Harry Powell, a self-professed man of the cloth, who is really a con man and murderer, swindling lonely women, primarily rich widows, of their money before he kills them. Harry does whatever he can, unsuccessfully, to find out the location of the $10,000 from Ben. After Ben's execution, Harry decides that Willa will be his next mark, figuring that someone in the family knows where the money is hidden. Despite vowing not to remarry, Willa ends up being easy prey for Harry's outward ... Written by
The scene where the children get away in the rowboat leaving the frustrated, knife-wielding preacher chest deep in the water was actually filmed on a sound stage. Robert Mitchum was actually crouched down in the scene as the water level was fairly shallow. See more »
(at around 29 mins) On the honeymoon night, when Willa approaches to the bed, Harry stands up and lights the lamp above in front of him. Between shots the lamp changes position. See more »
Finally got down to seeing The Night of the Hunter last night. The acting and direction made it almost unwatchable. My two stars are for the cinematography alone. The rest of the movie is unbearably amateurish. Combining various classic elements of American cinema doesn't make a movie classic; it makes it a mishmash of story lines that make little sense together. There are gaping holes in the story and acting that are irrational--even ludicrous--at every turn. Critics sometimes look too deeply into an artistic work in a vain attempt to find something that's not there. There's almost nothing of merit in this work. There's a reason Laughton directed only one film: because he was completely inept at it. 1955 audiences laughed aloud at scenes Laughton meant to be terrifying; I found myself echoing those sentiments last night, including Mitchum's elongated Frankenstein-like chase of the children to the river's edge. Those who rate this movie highly do a great disservice to writers and directors who strive to create realism, consistency, character development and simple logic in their work, as well as to actors who strive to create memorable performances that future stage performers will seek to emulate. Mitchum's subsequent role in Cape Fear did not use his Night of the Hunter character as inspiration, rather, it showed what a great actor can do with a REAL director like J. Lee Thompson.
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