The Night of the Hunter
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Adapted by James Agee from a novel by Davis Grubb, The Night of the Hunter represented legendary actor Charles Laughton's only film directing effort. Combining stark realism with Germanic expressionism, the movie is a brilliant good-and-evil parable, with "good" represented by a couple of farm kids and a pious old lady, and "evil" literally in the hands of a posturing psychopath. Imprisoned with thief Ben Harper (Peter Graves), phony preacher Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) learns that Ben has hidden a huge sum of money somewhere near his home. Upon his release, the… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"It is a garish, unbelievable but fairly exciting nightmare."
‑ , TIME Magazine
"All this has been crisply compacted into clear screen drama by the late James Agee and it is put forth under the direction of Mr. Laughton in stark, rigid visual terms."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"A unique blend of fractured fairy tale, Southern gothic grisliness and striking German expressionism, it also has some pitch-black humor thrown in for good measure."
‑ Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing
"A perennially unsettling masterpiece from which modern chillers could learn much."
‑ Mark Kermode, Observer [UK]
"This southern American Gothic chiller remains both gloriously cinematic and utterly terrifying almost 60 years after it was made."
‑ Miles Fielder, The List
"Ultimately the source of its style and power is mysterious -- it is a film without precedents, and without any real equals"
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"There's the absolute authority of Mitchum's performance -- easy, charming, infinitely sinister."
‑ , Time Out
"Laughton's only film makes up, in atmospherics and its horribly righteous wrongdoer, for lapses into talkiness and staginess. There are the moody, often German Expressionist shots and that twinkling gleam to the word-crafty, preaching predator's malice."
‑ Brian Gibson, Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
"It is both Christian parable and folk tale, with its hymns, homilies, and orphans carried to safety by nature's benevolence; but it is also grounded in the social concerns of its makers."
‑ Mark Asch, Little White Lies
"Mitchum is magnetic."
‑ Adam Smith, Empire Magazine
"This start for Gregory as producer and Laughton as director is rich in promise but the completed product, bewitching at times, loses sustained drive via too many offbeat touches that have a misty effect."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"One of the most chilling suspense films ever made, it's also the finest role of Robert Mitchum."
‑ Jane Sumner, Dallas Morning News
"Laughton made a unique and sublimely stunning film. It enchants, haunts and frightens in equal measures."
‑ Eleanor McKeown, Electric Sheep
"A stunning piece of work, with the shadows of German expressionism and a compositional sense comparable to the work of George Stevens: it trumps its own noir cynicism with a thrilling and plausible idealism in the final moments."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian [UK]
"This thriller is one of the great masterpieces of American cinema, a movie so strangely repellent, so poetic and so utterly hypnotic that it sadly never found an audience."
‑ Adrian Turner, Radio Times
More reviews for The Night of the Hunter on Rotten Tomatoes