3 items from 2013
(Charles Laughton, 1955; Arrow, 15)
One of the greatest, most influential directorial debuts in movie history, The Night of the Hunter was a major critical and commercial failure in 1955, and Charles Laughton never directed another film, which was bad for him, bad for us and bad for Norman Mailer, whose The Naked and the Dead was to be Laughton's follow-up project.
Based on Davis Grubb's gothic novel, it's a grim fairytale for adults set in poverty-stricken West Virginia during the depression and centres on a father going to the gallows for murder after concealing some stolen money in his little daughter's doll and swearing her brother to secrecy. An ogre in the form of a psychotic preacher (Robert Mitchum's best, most scary performance), who'd shared a cell with their father, is after the loot. When this monstrous figure of pure evil takes over the impoverished family, the children flee down the Ohio river, »
- Philip French
Director Charles Laughton’s and screenwriter James Agee’s adaptation of the novel The Night of the Hunter has become a reverently admired and extremely influential film in the 60 years since the ‘failure’ of its initial release. The film has placed very highly in many international critical polls, including Cahier du Cinema’s 2007 listing of the ‘100 Most Beautiful Films’, where it sits at #2. Many filmmakers have cited it as a key inspiration, and Steven Spielberg showed it to the crew of E.T. in order to help them understand the child’s perspective from which he wanted the film to be told. It was even re-made as a virtually unwatchable 1991 TV movie with Richard Chamberlain as Harry Powell, and a musical stage version was created in the late ‘90s for which a soundtrack CD is available.
Perhaps the most important indication of the esteem in which the film is now held »
- Ian Gilchrist
Above: 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (Michael Curtiz, USA, 1932).
When I wrote about the posters of 1933 last week this was one poster I deliberately held back (though 20,000 Years in Sing Sing was released on Christmas Eve 1932, it is included in Film Forum’s retrospective). The early 1930s, no less than today—though the execution was a lot more interesting— was an era of big floating heads in movie posters. While 1920s movies had the occasional floating head poster for their biggest stars, artists and studios still favored the look of early silent posters with their head-to-toe portraits and snippets of narrative. Though Norma Desmond said famously of the silent era “We didn’t need dialogue...we had faces!” it was ironically with the coming of sound that faces started to dominate movie posters and, until Saul Bass, minimalism in American movie posters was almost non-existent.
All that makes the 20,000 Years poster, »
- Adrian Curry
3 items from 2013