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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.

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(screenplay by), (based on the novel by)
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Lionel Barrymore
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Harry Powell
... Willa Harper
... Rachel Cooper
... Uncle Birdie Steptoe
... Icey Spoon
... Ben Harper
... Walt Spoon
... John Harper
... Pearl Harper
... Ruby (as Gloria Castilo)
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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 | money | doll | death | See All (325) »

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The Hands Of ROBERT MITCHUM in "The Night of the Hunter" See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

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Release Date:

24 November 1955 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht des Jägers  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$795,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A scene depicting the townsfolk going into the Spoon store after watching a movie is the only complete scene that was actually shot and later completely discarded. See more »

Goofs

(at around 22 mins) When Harry and Willa are talking on the riverside, he has his arms crossed, with his left hand touching his right arm and his right hand holding the hat leaned on his left folded leg. Between shots he appears with his left hand leaning on his leg and his right hand free holding the hat. See more »

Quotes

Birdie Steptoe: Man of my age needs a little snort in the morning, heat the boilers.
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Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Some Enchanted Evening (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
(1887) (uncredited)
Music by Anthony J. Showalter
Text by Elisha A. Hoffman
Sung a cappella by Robert Mitchum often
Also sung a cappella by Lillian Gish
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Sleep, Lit'le ones, sleep...
23 September 2002 | by See all my reviews

I still hear the lullaby singing sweetly in my head, like a hazy, haunting dream that won't go away.

From the opening scene of the beautiful Lillian Gish and her children, watching over the world in a starry sky, this movie just sinks you into a mesmeric fairy tale land. The camera takes us down in one sweeping move to a scene of children playing, a hot sunny day, and right to the feet of a murder victim. And that sweet music turns on us like a twisted nightmare as the scene chases after a car speeding along a country road to find one of movies worst villains.

Charles Laughton, in sadly his one and only stab at directing, created a masterpiece of horror with Night of the Hunter. The moments of sugar coated sweetness only make this movie even more disturbing as you wonder how the two can inhabit the same world.

Mitchum is terrifying. More-so in a town full of simple folk ready to match him up with the local widow who needs a father for her lit'le n's. Its like he's walked into the middle of a Frank Capra movie and he's going to do what he wants to.

This is not just a great horror movie, but an artist achievement to rival Welles' Kane. The river scene is one of many moments of pure visual splendor. And that sound track just keeps drifting alone, as if trying to coax you into slumber, till the singing madman of your nightmares comes over the hill, relentless. "Chil-dren, Come along now"

You don't watch this movie, it watches you. ...Hush, Lit'le ones, Hush.


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