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The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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.

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Cast

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

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) »

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 November 1955 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht des Jägers  »

Box Office

Budget:

$795,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Laughton, who thought that Robert Mitchum was "one of the best actors in the world," wrote in Esquire of the private man he knew to be different than the public image: "All this tough talk is a blind, you know. He's a literate, gracious, kind man, with wonderful manners, and he speaks beautifully--when he wants to. He's a tender man and a very great gentleman. You know, he's really terribly shy." Laughton was usually ill at ease with very macho men yet very comfortable with his star. See more »

Goofs

(at around 49 mins) When Harry tells the children about their "fine dinner, with fried chicken..." the chicken on the table is a whole, baked chicken. See more »

Quotes

Rachel Cooper: It's a hard world for little things.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Cape Feare (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Once Upon a Time There Was a Pretty Fly
(1955) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Schumann
Lyrics by Davis Grubb
Originally sung by Sally Jane Bruce but later dubbed by Betty Benson
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Overwhelming
6 November 2005 | by (Melbourne, Australia) – See all my reviews

I was lucky enough to see this in a cinema with a restored print. I had previously caught a snatch of it while channel surfing cable TV, and saw enough in about 30 seconds to realise that this was worth watching through if I got the chance.

I could barely speak at the end of the film. Pauline Kael called it one of the scariest movies ever made, and she was absolutely right. Robert Mitchum becomes the embodiment of evil, and his pursuit of the children is so relentless, and so menacing, that it becomes impossible to believe that they can escape. The images are brilliant; there's a depth to black and white that colour somehow lacks, and it is used superbly here to create a sense of brooding terror.

I didn't mind the homily at the end. Like everything else in the film, it is done with utter conviction, and this makes it work. Charles Laughton saw it as the indispensable conclusion to the film, and the strength of his belief makes it indispensable.

The images are so much part of the film that it must lose a great deal on the small screen, although my minimal exposure to it in that environment showed that it was still well worth watching, but if you get a chance to see it in a cinema, jump at it.


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