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The Night of the Hunter

Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

Director: Charles Laughton
Writers: Davis Grubb(novel), James Agee(screenplay)
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
Genre: Film Noir

About: In prison (Robert Mitchum) who's a religious fanatic preacher, learns about a stash of $10,000 from a robbery. When the preacher is released from prison he goes looking for the money an finds the widow of the man who stole the money and then marries her. He then begins tormenting her children to learn of the whereabouts of the stolen money.

Review: Is there anything more iconic that Robert Mitchum's LOVE HATE finger tattoos? Those ink marks have been imitated everywhere, from rock musicians, to the Simpson's TV show. Just Google Love Hate finger tattoos and you'll see, they're everywhere! Even on toes!

I'd seen this movie before when I was first getting into film noir and I remember how it impressed me. This time around I'm even more impressed by the unique cinematography and set designs. Especially the river voyage scene where the children drift downstream in a small boat. I loved the way the river set looked almost poetic, with the small animals along the shore and in the background silhouettes of old farm houses. I loved the lighting and the star filled sky too. And that was all done on the set. No it doesn't look real, and it doesn't look gritty noir either, it wasn't suppose to...It does look like a storybook, as the children take the same journey Moses did down the Nile.

I thought this film balanced it's religious themes quite nicely. One of the highlights was when the stalking Reverend (Robert Mitchum) was singing
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms cappella with Rachel (Lillian Gish). I like the juxtaposition of how the evil Mitchum sings lean on me while the good Lillian Gish sings lean on Jesus. A nice touch to define the difference betwixt them.