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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

An Utter Disappointment

Although it really had its great moments (especially Mitchum is genius at times and there are some absolutely stunning shots as well), Night of The Hunter was an utter disappointment. I really thought it was going to be a superb classic I've been missing out on all these years but it was quite tedious to be honest.

So it's a good thing the critics know best. Eg. Roger Ebert:

Charles Laughton's ``The Night of the Hunter'' (1955) is one of the greatest of all American films, but has never received the attention it deserves because of its lack of the proper trappings. Many ``great movies'' are by great directors, but Laughton directed only this one film, which was a critical and commercial failure long overshadowed by his acting career. Many great movies use actors who come draped in respectability and prestige, but Robert Mitchum has always been a raffish outsider. And many great movies are realistic, but ``Night of the Hunter'' is an expressionistic oddity, telling its chilling story through visual fantasy. People don't know how to categorize it, so they leave it off their lists.^


Everybody knows the Mitchum character, the sinister ``Reverend'' Harry Powell. Even those who haven't seen the movie have heard about the knuckles of his two hands, and how one has the letters H-A-T-E tattooed on them, and the other the letters L-O-V-E.


For his first film, Laughton made a film like no other before or since, and with such confidence it seemed to draw on a lifetime of work. Critics were baffled by it, the public rejected it, and the studio had a much more expensive Mitchum picture (``Not as a Stranger'') it wanted to promote instead. But nobody who has seen ``The Night of the Hunter'' has forgotten it, or Mitchum's voice coiling down those basement stairs: ``Chillll . . . dren?''

I still love you though, Charles "I have a face like the behind of an elephant" Laughton.

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