Writer: James Agee (Screenplay) Davis Grubb (Novel)
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden
Plot: A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he’d stolen in a robbery.
Tagline – The Hands Of ROBERT MITCHUM in “The Night of the Hunter”
Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Story: The Night of the Hunter starts as we meet religious con man Harry Powell (Mitchum) who meets soon to be executed prisoner Ben Harper (Graves) who has hidden $10,000 after a robbery gone bad. Harry sets out to meet the widow Willa (Winters) so he can take the money, but the only people who know where the money is are the children John and Pearl.
When Harry proves just how far he will go for the money the kids must escape him before he takes the money leaving them high and dry, the question remains, can they stay ahead of Harry.
Thoughts on The Night of the Hunter
Characters – Harry Powell is a religious conman, he moves from town to town preying on the religious beliefs while looking for rich widows he can take for everything. Harry knows how to play people into believing everything he says which is why he is successful in his actions. Willa is the latest widow Harry sets his sights on because of the money hidden by her late husband, she believes what he preaches when it comes to dealing with God and purpose in life.
Performances – Robert Mitchum is full of the menace for this leading role, he shows how manipulative his character is with every scene he is in. Shelley Winters is good in this role while it is the child stars that shine at times in this film.
Story – The story follows a conman on his latest attempt to make a quick buck off a struggling family. This becomes a battle for one up each other between the kids and Harry which is entertaining to see, as we learn just how determined Harry is and how the kids will not stop working together when they lose their father.
Crime – The crime side of the story is following Harry and his actions to make sure he gets the money he desires, we see how calculated he is when looking to achieve this.
Settings – The settings show us the simple life the family once lived, but soon the turns into a race to stay alive.
Final Thoughts – This is considered a classic and you can see why because it does give you the idea it helped build a side genre in film, the film has unfortunately been parodied too often to keep the impact it should be making.
Overall: One classic that should be seen by all.