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The Night of the Hunter
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The Night of the Hunter (1955) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 42 | slideshow) Videos (see all 3)
The Night of the Hunter -- Robert Mitchum stars in an unforgettable role as a psychopathic preacher in relentless pursuit of two children who have their dead father's stolen fortune hidden in a doll. Shelley Winters co-stars.
The Night of the Hunter -- Three Reasons Criterion trailer
The Night of the Hunter -- Criterion trailer


User Rating:
8.1/10   60,408 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Down 64% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Davis Grubb (from the novel by)
James Agee (screen play)
View company contact information for The Night of the Hunter on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 November 1955 (Argentina) See more »
The scenes...the story...The stars BUT ABOVE ALL - THE SUSPENSE! See more »
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Breathtaking Imagery See more (373 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Robert Mitchum ... Harry Powell

Shelley Winters ... Willa Harper

Lillian Gish ... Rachel Cooper

James Gleason ... Birdie Steptoe
Evelyn Varden ... Icey Spoon

Peter Graves ... Ben Harper

Don Beddoe ... Walt Spoon

Billy Chapin ... John Harper
Sally Jane Bruce ... Pearl Harper
Gloria Castillo ... Ruby (as Gloria Castilo)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Emmett Lynn ... Birdie Steptoe (scenes deleted)

Corey Allen ... Young Man in Town (uncredited)
Paul Bryar ... Bart the Hangman (uncredited)
Cheryl Callaway ... Mary (uncredited)

Michael Chapin ... Ruby's Boyfriend (uncredited)
Mary Ellen Clemons ... Clary (uncredited)

Kathy Garver ... Child (uncredited)

James Griffith ... District Attorney (uncredited)

John Hamilton ... Townsman Who Greets Rachel (uncredited)
Kay Lavelle ... Miz Cunninghan (uncredited)

Gloria Pall ... Burlesque Dancer (uncredited)
George Wallace ... (uncredited)

Directed by
Charles Laughton 
Robert Mitchum (some Billy Chapin scenes) (uncredited)
Terry Sanders (uncredited)
Writing credits
Davis Grubb (from the novel by)

James Agee (screen play)

Charles Laughton  screenplay contributor (uncredited)

Produced by
Paul Gregory .... producer
Original Music by
Walter Schumann (music by)
Cinematography by
Stanley Cortez (photography by)
Film Editing by
Robert Golden (film editor)
Casting by
Millie Gusse (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Hilyard M. Brown  (as Hilyard Brown)
Set Decoration by
Alfred E. Spencer (set decoration) (as Al Spencer)
Makeup Department
Don L. Cash .... makeup (as Don Cash)
Kay Shea .... hair stylist
Production Management
Ruby Rosenberg .... production manager
Frank Parmenter .... production manager: second unit (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Milton Carter .... assistant director
Frank Parmenter .... second unit director (uncredited)
Terry Sanders .... second unit director (uncredited)
Jack Sonntag .... first assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Joe LaBella .... property man (as Joe La Bella)
Sound Department
Stanford Houghton .... sound (as Stanford Naughton)
Special Effects by
Louis DeWitt .... special photographic effects (as Louis De Witt)
Jack Rabin .... special photographic effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Seymour Hoffberg .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Harold E. Wellman .... camera: second unit (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jerry Bos .... wardrobe
Evelyn Carruth .... wardrobe assistant
Music Department
Arthur Morton .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Saul Bass .... publicist (uncredited)
Robert Mitchum .... director: children (uncredited)
Denis Sanders .... unspecified assistant (uncredited)
Terry Sanders .... unspecified assistant (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
92 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Australia:PG (TV rating) | Brazil:14 | Canada:14A (video rating) | Finland:K-16 (1959) (cut) | Finland:(Banned) (1955) (uncut) | France:U | Germany:12 (re-rating) (2001) | Italy:16+ | Norway:16 | Portugal:M/12 | South Korea:15 (2003) | Spain:T | Sweden:11 (re-rating) (2004) | Sweden:15 (re-rating) (1958) | Sweden:(Banned) (original rating) (1955) | UK:12 | UK:X (original rating) | USA:Approved (certificate #17385) | USA:TV-PG (tv rating) | USA:Unrated (video release) | West Germany:16 (VHS re-rating) | West Germany:18 (original rating) (1956)

Did You Know?

Reports that screenwriter James Agee wrote an incoherent screenplay have been proved false by the 2004 discovery of his first draft. That document, although 293 pages in length, and manifestly overwritten (as is common with first drafts), is, scene-for-scene, the film that Charles Laughton directed. Likewise false are the reports that Agee was fired, related most infamously in Robert Mitchum's autobiography. Laughton, however much he gnashed his teeth at having such a behemoth of a text in his hands with only five weeks to go before the start of principal photography, calmly renewed Agee's contract and directed him to cut it in half; after much persuasion, he did. In Laughton's stage work ("Galileo", "Cain Mutiny Court Martial", etc), the great actor demonstrated he was a script editor of genius - he could induce the most stubborn and prideful writer to cut, cut, cut, and so he did in Agee's case. Later, apparently at Robert Mitchum's request, Agee visited the set to settle a dispute between the star and Laughton. Letters and documents located in the archive of Agee's agent Paul Kohner bear this out -- they were brought to light by Laughton biographer Simon Callow, whose excellent BFI book about "Night of the Hunter" diligently sets this part of the record straight. The Agee first draft may eventually be published, but it has been read by scholars -- most notably, Professor Jeffrey Couchman of Columbia University, who published his findings in an essay, "Credit Where Credit Is Due". To assert Agee's moral right to his screen credit in no way disputes Laughton's greatness as a director -- clearly, he was as expert with writers as he was with actors -- but Agee has been belittled, and even slandered, over the years (especially in Robert Mitchum's autobiography), when his contribution to "Night of the Hunter" was of primary and enduring importance. (Submitted by F. X. Feeney, film critic and author, who has read the original Agee script.)See more »
Continuity: (at around 41 mins) Mr. Spoon opens the cabinet to get the peach brandy. In the next shot, the cabinet is closed and he opens it again to put the brandy away.See more »
Willa Harper:The boy's as stubborn and as mulish as a sheep.See more »
Movie Connections:
Cresap's Landing PartySee more »


Where does the story take place?
Is 'The Night of the Hunter' based on a book?
How did Harry get out of prison?
See more »
44 out of 67 people found the following review useful.
Breathtaking Imagery, 16 December 2007
Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas

Extraordinary, unparalleled, breathtaking ... that's how I would appraise the film's visuals, from DP Stanley Cortez. The images are all in B&W, and many have a noir design straight out of German Expressionism. Sharp angles, high-contrast "hard" lighting, and deep shadows amplify form, or rather distort reality, and as such project human experience as an exaggeration of the emotional.

Some of the images in "The Night Of The Hunter" are so enthralling that they will live on in the collective mind as long as cinema exists. Who can forget that famous underwater scene wherein a dead woman's body sits upright in a car with her hair flowing along the current like seaweed, accompanied by background music that is so dreamlike? One of my favorite images is the one wherein Willa Harper (Shelley Winters) lies in blissful repose on a bed as Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) stands by a window in an unadorned room with angular walls that slope upward, as if in a church.

One of the most haunting, and famous, sequences has the two children, John and Pearl, in a rowboat, as they make a Homeric odyssey down a river, lorded over by giant spider webs, frogs, and rabbits. And then there's that electrifying scene with Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) in silhouette, sitting in a chair, holding a shotgun, as Harry Powell sings "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms". Cinematic brilliance extraordinaire!

Consistent with its expressionistic visuals, the story is presented from the POV of a child's nightmare. John and Pearl symbolize innocence, and the bogeyman comes in the form of an adult, a godlike man who cons the gullible townsfolk including the children's mom. Our good reverend Powell is less interested in saving souls than he is in finding all that loot stashed away somewhere. Thus, the film's underlying theme is at least as relevant now as it was fifty years ago; the film has not aged one bit.

Production design is sparse, true to the film's visual style and to the setting in Depression era West Virginia. The casting is perfect. Robert Mitchum has just the right look and voice for the part of Harry Powell. I like how he calls to John and Pearl ... "chill-drenn?" Lillian Gish is well-suited to represent ... reality.

And those two kids likewise are ideally cast. Love the way Pearl, with her round face and those rag-a-muffin curls refers to herself, in that Southern drawl, as "Pell". And the film's horror combines with humor in many scenes, one of which has "Pell" sitting on the ground with scissors in hand nonchalantly cutting up paper currency into paper dolls.

Acting is generally exaggerated, again consistent with what one would expect in a nightmare. Evelyn Varden, as Icey Spoon (love that name), hams it up in a gossipy, mother hen sort of way. And Shelley Winters effectively jitters her way through the film, ghostlike, her character lost in delusion.

The film's original score is haunting and mournful, and could hardly set a more appropriate tone: "Dream little one, dream; dream my little one, dream; oh the hunter in the night fills your childish heart with fright; fear is only a dream; so little one dream".

With its brilliant photography, its unpopular but deeply truthful theme, and its nightmarish story, Charles Laughton's "The Night Of The Hunter" is high up on my list of twenty best films of all time.

Was the above review useful to you?
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The ending... SerFraser
Phony sound effect thundercloud47
Who would be a good Harry Powell in a remake? Koolio06
Ending was unecessary (Spoilers) faulknerfan123
Anyone else notice that Pearl was useless.... appleseiter15
8.2 Rating? Did I miss something? cann85
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