THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)

Dir. Charles Laughton

Dramatizing the biblical admonition against false prophets, Charles Laughton turned the only feature he ever directed into a fable about two children stalked by a lethal preacher (Robert Mitchum) out for stolen money hidden by their father. Unlike most directors in the 1950s, Laughton chose to tell his story with a combination of Expressionism and lyrical camera work. His use of stylized sets and sculpted shadows give the film a fairy tale quality that would influence later directors like Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers and David Lynch. The image of Mitchum's hands, with LOVE tattooed on one and HATE on the other, has become one of the most referenced of any film of the decade. Initially, Laughton tried to cast Gary Cooper against type as the killer, modeled on Virginia Bluebeard Harry Powers. When Cooper turned him down, Laughton went with Mitchum. Despite the film's box office failure (Protestant groups blocked its exhibition in some territories), Mitchum would call THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER his favorite film and Laughton his favorite director.

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
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