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The Night of the Hunter

Released Sep 29, 1955 1h 32m Mystery & Thriller List
93% Tomatometer 86 Reviews 90% Audience Score 10,000+ Ratings
The Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is a religious fanatic and serial killer who targets women who use their sexuality to attract men. Serving time in prison for car theft, he meets condemned murderer Ben Harper (Peter Graves), who confesses to hiding $10,000 in stolen loot. Released from jail, Powell is obsessed with finding the money, and he tracks down Harper's widow, Willa (Shelley Winters), and her two children, John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce). Read More Read Less
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The Night of the Hunter

What to Know

Critics Consensus

Featuring Robert Mitchum's formidable performance as a child-hunting preacher, The Night of the Hunter is a disturbing look at good and evil.

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Critics Reviews

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Gavin Lambert Sight & Sound The Night of the Hunter doesn't altogether, as they say, "come off," but it is a film of extremely individual flavour, and its daring, its indifference to convention, make it uniquely surprising for a Hollywood production today. Oct 2, 2020 Full Review Times (UK) Staff Times (UK) Mr. Charles Laughton directs, and, since Mr. Laughton is a highly intelligent man, nothing that he does is without interest. The Night of the Hunter is indeed none the less interesting for being a failure. Oct 2, 2020 Full Review Philip K. Scheuer Los Angeles Times It is doubtful that you will ever hear the old hymn, 'Learning,' again without recalling the gaunt, flapping figure of Preacher Powell as he lams it out in the dark night -- to the terror of the listening youngsters Jun 28, 2019 Full Review Dennis Harvey 48 Hills In one of his greatest roles, Mitchum makes as indelible an impression... Jan 2, 2024 Full Review Noah Gittell Washington City Paper Charles Laughton’s sole directorial work hauntingly laid the groundwork for “from hell” movies of the ’80s and ’90s. Dec 16, 2023 Full Review Kristy Strouse Cinematic Lovelies Daringly daunting, The Night of the Hunter is a beautifully dark dose of cinema’s best. Sep 2, 2023 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Pica R This movie is AMAZING! And so is Pearl. She is adorable, and steals the movie in a way, unlike John. John is Pearl's older brother, and John is not the best child actor i've seen in movie history. He is annoying. If John didn't throw the hair brush at Powell, HE WOULDN'T HAVE TRIED TO KILL THE KIDS!!! Ok, and Powell is just a TOTAL creep. He is a liar, trickster, and, well, just creepy. Ms. Copper is a pretty strict grandma, but seems like a nice person, unlike John. Uncle Birdie seems like he would be cool to hang out with, unlike John. Icey and Walt Spoon are actually very evil. Only by listening to what Icey Spoon says throughout the movie, you see that she is VERY evil. Willa is stressed because she has to raise John and Pearl on her own, because her husband was hung by committing a crime. Although Willa is not the best mother, she would probably be a nice person, unlike John. I also recommend reading The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 07/17/24 Full Review Melissa C A magnificently beautiful film with moments of soaring joy and gut-wrenching horror. Something about the narrative feels familiar in a nostalgic sort of way, and all the leads - from the oldest to the youngest - sell it one hundred percent. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 07/09/24 Full Review nick s Great acting by the cast, including children. Nice studio sets. A few directorial soft spots - a flash mob that didn't make a lot of sense, the overuse of staged pets, cartoonish howls when the antagonist was in pain. But overall an engaging movie. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 07/07/24 Full Review Ted B 4.0 stars. A movie definitely ahead of its time (1955). A real original of the concept of 'a monster that will not die' horror film. Robert Mitchum has a real talent in portraying the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' character. In this case, he plays a serial killer disguised as a pastor. What could be more scary than a character like that chasing two innocent young children across the landscape, with the intent to kill in order to retrieve stolen money? The stark visual effect in which the film is shot is stunning. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 07/06/24 Full Review Ishara L Beautifully shot (interesting compositions that work really well). Pacing is excellent with the use of interesting cutting techniques to build tention (and this is before Psycho, which it made me think of, so I wonder how much this has influenced Hitchcock in making it or how much Laughton was influenced by earlier Hitchcock's works). The acting was really outstanding too, I don't think there was any one who fell out of the boat, even the children were really believable. Robert Mitchum plays a really good bad guy and I don't know who came up with using the hymn as a leitmotif for him, but it works brilliantly. My favourite shot was the underwater shot with the flowing seaweed, I really wonder how they did that (if anyone knows that reads this, please do send a message my way). Maybe there is one or two things that are left hanging, but it didn't bother me in the overall sense. It's a shame that this is the only movie we have that was directed by Laughton, but on the other hand if this is the only one we get, I'm glad that it is this one. I thought it was excellent! Rated 4 out of 5 stars 05/05/24 Full Review Asa H Not only extraordinary screenplays and tour de force acting.. but one of the most imaginative and dramatic piece of film work of all time.. Striking pioneering filming that is unequalled even with today's advanced technology. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/20/24 Full Review Read all reviews
The Night of the Hunter

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Cast & Crew

The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - He Ain't My Dad The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - He Ain't My Dad 2:40 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - The Devil Wins Sometimes The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - The Devil Wins Sometimes 3:12 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - It's in the Doll! The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - It's in the Doll! 2:49 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - The Sleepless Hunter The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - The Sleepless Hunter 1:54 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Two Pretty Children The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Two Pretty Children 1:29 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Harry Murders Willa The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Harry Murders Willa 2:23 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Love and Hate The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Love and Hate 2:10 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Harry Speaks to the Lord The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Harry Speaks to the Lord 2:04 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Making a Promise The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - Making a Promise 1:54 The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - They Abide and They Endure The Night of the Hunter: Official Clip - They Abide and They Endure 1:28 View more videos
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Movie Info

Synopsis The Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is a religious fanatic and serial killer who targets women who use their sexuality to attract men. Serving time in prison for car theft, he meets condemned murderer Ben Harper (Peter Graves), who confesses to hiding $10,000 in stolen loot. Released from jail, Powell is obsessed with finding the money, and he tracks down Harper's widow, Willa (Shelley Winters), and her two children, John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce).
Director
Charles Laughton
Producer
Paul Gregory
Screenwriter
James Agee, Charles Laughton
Distributor
United Artists
Production Co
United Artists, Paul Gregory Productions
Genre
Mystery & Thriller
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Sep 29, 1955, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 16, 2011
Runtime
1h 32m
Sound Mix
Mono
Aspect Ratio
35mm
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