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The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.


, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


(from the novel by), (screen play)
4,086 ( 274)
2 wins. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Evelyn Varden ...
Sally Jane Bruce ...
Gloria Castillo ...
Ruby (as Gloria Castilo)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Birdie Steptoe (scenes deleted)


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

widow | preacher | children | money | doll | See All (330) »


The wedding night, the anticipation, the kiss, the knife, BUT ABOVE ALL... THE SUSPENSE! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

24 November 1955 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht des Jägers  »

Box Office


$795,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the Spanish version the translators changed the name of the girl from Pearl to May, perhaps for the difficult pronunciation in Spanish. See more »


(at around 59 mins) The turtle that John says could be made into soup is actually a desert tortoise, not found in West Virginia/Kentucky. See more »


Pearl Harper: [singing] Once upon a time there was a pretty fly, he had a pretty wife, this pretty fly. But one day she flew away, flew away. She had two pretty children, but one night these two pretty children flew away, flew away, into the sky, into the moon.
See more »


Referenced in Married with Children: Peggy Made a Little Lamb (1990) See more »


Cresap's Landing Party
Composers unknown
Played on guitar and sung by James Gleason
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A must-see for lovers of art cinema and suspense. Exquisite!
29 December 1998 | by (Tokyo, Japan) – See all my reviews

One of the best suspense films ever made. Exquisite art direction: moody, scary, sometimes lyrically beautiful. Yet there are comical and even idyllic moments. Mitchum is EXCELLENT, especially in the cellar scene. Subtle, different; not just the same old ax-after-ax tear-'em-up blood-and-gore formula, but REAL suspense built from the personalities of the characters and the artful editing, music, art direction, and Charles Laughton's directing. Yet warm and lovely in parts. The cast's characterizations are excellent, even in minor roles, such as the "typical townspeople". You'll remember this one for a long time. Maybe not for kids under 12, as the frightening parts are too much like real life (compared to run-of-the-mill horrendous movies) and might leave unsettling memories.

109 of 169 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The REAL villain of this film... thomastheakston
It's in my doll It's in my doll! aios-dum
How did Mitchum know... matteo_raw3000
Who would be a good Harry Powell in a remake? KyleH87
Not impressed Normal-Bates
It just fell apart ath-11
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