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BFI Film Classics #59: Night of the Hunterby Simon Callow
Synopses & Reviews
The Night of the Hunter was Charles Laughton's only film as director. Adapted from a best-selling novel by Davis Grubb, it is part expressionist horror movie, part luminous fairytale, and contains some of the most haunting images in cinema: Willa (Shelley Winters), her throat cut and hair streaming out like seaweed, sitting in a submerged Model T Ford; her children, framed by looming animals, in a downriver flight from Preacher (Robert Mitchum), a silhouetted threat on the horizon.
The Night of the Hunter is revered today, but it failed on its first release, and Laughton never recovered from the disappointment. Simon Callow explores Laughton's transition between film actor and director, and examines the considerable influence the film has had on subsequent filmmakers such as Neil Jordan and even Callow himself.
This is an examination of "The Night of the Hunter", Charles Laughton's only outing as a film director. It looks at the symbolism of the piece, at Willa, her throat cut sitting in the Model-T Ford, and the Preacher, a silhouetted threat on the horizon.
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