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3 Remote Warehouse Film and Television- History and Criticism

The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film


The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Reaching simultaneously into the realms of film and literature, this detailed exploration of The Night of the Hunter examines the genesis and the eclectic form of each work and the process of transformation by which the novel became a motion picture. It provides the first major study of the long-lost first-draft screenplay by James Agee and confronts a fifty-year controversy about the authorship of the film. This is a story of artistic convergence on many levels--of novelist and director, director and actor, and cinematic form and tastes. The novel, a 1953 debut from Davis Grubb, was a popular and critical success, remaining on the New York Times best-seller list for four months. Hollywood responded to its atmospheric lyricism, and in the hands of first time director Charles Laughton, the book became a film that is equal parts thriller, allegory, and fever dream, filled with slow, inexorable suspense. On the set, Laughton functioned both as an auteur and a collaborator to create his vision of the book, mixing cinematic flourishes both realistic and abstract in sometimes tense situations. The talents that clashed or came together along the road from book to movie make the final film a product of rich stylistic contradiction and rewarding complexity. Through biography, production history, and critical analysis of the novel and film, author Jeffrey Couchman makes the case that this initially overlooked cinematic gem is a prismatic work that continually reveals new aspects of itself.


"I see you're looking at my hands," says the Rev. Harry Powell. The black-suited preacher — played by cobra-lidded Robert Mitchum — sits on a stool in an ice cream parlor in Depression-era West Virginia. His knuckles are tattooed with the words LOVE and HATE, and in just a moment the hypocritical, sexually repressed, homicidal maniac will mime the never-ending battle between good and evil, between... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

About the Author

Jeffrey Couchman is a post-doctoral teaching fellow at Fordham University in New York City, where he also resides. His criticism, including works on Double Indemnity and The Night of the Hunter, has appeared in American Cinematographer, and his fiction has appeared in Pennsylvania English and the South Carolina Review.

Product Details

Couchman, Jeffrey
Northwestern University Press
Film - History & Criticism
Film & Video - History & Criticism
Grubb, Davis
Film and Television-History and Criticism
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Specific Film

The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film New Trade Paper
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Product details 312 pages Northwestern University Press - English 9780810125421 Reviews:
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