Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Night of the Hunter [1955]

Actor Charles Laughton’s sole directorial venture The Night of the Hunter is considered not just a great film noir but also one of the greatest American films ever made. Not that I disliked it, but I certainly wasn’t bowled over given the hype that is still surrounding this one-off film of Laughton. The movie has as its central character a diabolical, god-loving sociopath called Harry Powell – a character that gave Robert Mitchum one of his finest roles and he in turn gave a truly memorable performance – who, while serving time with a death-row inmate, learns of the ten thousand dollars that the man has secretly stashed away. Upon his release, he travels to his home, befriends and eventually marries his gullible widow, and endears himself to the neighbours. But he soon comes to know that the secret to that money is held by the young son and daughter of his former cellmate, and they form more than a match for this evil-hearted killer who goes by the name of “Preacher”. The movie relied too heavily on its moments of avoidable melodrama, making the film too unnecessarily corny at times. Though Mitchum did try saving the film with his creepy turn, and the stylized photography gave us a peek into a hellish Depression-era American rural countryside, the artificial set-pieces prevented the realism from being very effective. The movie, I felt, had a strong first half, but the overtly predictable second half somewhat diluted its impact for me.

Director: Charles Laughton
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Psychological Thriller
Language: English
Country: US


Alex said...

Interesting. I haven't seen this yet but I feel like I've been hearing a lot about it lately (did it just get a new release or something?). As you said, it's been highly praised and hyped. I still want to see it for myself, but it's good to know it might not be as amazing as some would have you believe!

Shubhajit said...

Yeah, enormous reputation precedes this movie. But then, that was just my opinion, and most of those who have liked this movie might not appreciate my opinion. Nonetheless, it hopefully puts things in perspective. As for a new release, that I'm not certain of, I watched the older version. Thanks Alex for stopping by.