8.0/10
70,059
415 user 184 critic

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay by), (based on the novel by)

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Cast

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Walt Spoon
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Ruby (as Gloria Castilo)
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Storyline

It's the Great Depression. In the process of robbing a bank of $10,000, Ben Harper kills two people. Before he is captured, he is able to convince his adolescent son John and his daughter Pearl not to tell anyone, including their mother Willa, where he hid the money, namely in Pearl's favorite toy, a doll that she carries everywhere with her. Ben, who is captured, tried and convicted, is sentenced to death. But before he is executed, Ben is in the state penitentiary with a cell mate, a man by the name of Harry Powell, a self-professed man of the cloth, who is really a con man and murderer, swindling lonely women, primarily rich widows, of their money before he kills them. Harry does whatever he can, unsuccessfully, to find out the location of the $10,000 from Ben. After Ben's execution, Harry decides that Willa will be his next mark, figuring that someone in the family knows where the money is hidden. Despite vowing not to remarry, Willa ends up being easy prey for Harry's outward ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

widow | preacher | children | money | doll | See All (325) »

Taglines:

The scenes...the story...The stars BUT ABOVE ALL - THE SUSPENSE! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

24 November 1955 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht des Jägers  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$795,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lillian Gish feared that Charles Laughton and Robert Mitchum might be undercutting Powell's evil. Laughton explained to her, half joking, that he didn't want to ruin Mitchum's future career by pushing him to play total evil, although the touches of humor in the character actually serve to play up the preacher's essentially ludicrous and haywire psychology. And Mitchum's borderline buffoonery makes the children's escape and eventual triumph over him more plausible. See more »

Goofs

(at around 49 mins) When Harry tells the children about their "fine dinner, with fried chicken..." the chicken on the table is a whole, baked chicken. See more »

Quotes

Rachel Cooper: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them.
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Connections

Spoofed in Fatal Instinct (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Bringing in the Sheaves
(1880) (uncredited)
Lyrics by Knowles Shaw (1874)
Music by George A. Minor (1880)
Sung by all at a picnic
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Possibly the most overrated movie I've ever seen
28 December 2010 | by See all my reviews

Finally got down to seeing The Night of the Hunter last night. The acting and direction made it almost unwatchable. My two stars are for the cinematography alone. The rest of the movie is unbearably amateurish. Combining various classic elements of American cinema doesn't make a movie classic; it makes it a mishmash of story lines that make little sense together. There are gaping holes in the story and acting that are irrational--even ludicrous--at every turn. Critics sometimes look too deeply into an artistic work in a vain attempt to find something that's not there. There's almost nothing of merit in this work. There's a reason Laughton directed only one film: because he was completely inept at it. 1955 audiences laughed aloud at scenes Laughton meant to be terrifying; I found myself echoing those sentiments last night, including Mitchum's elongated Frankenstein-like chase of the children to the river's edge. Those who rate this movie highly do a great disservice to writers and directors who strive to create realism, consistency, character development and simple logic in their work, as well as to actors who strive to create memorable performances that future stage performers will seek to emulate. Mitchum's subsequent role in Cape Fear did not use his Night of the Hunter character as inspiration, rather, it showed what a great actor can do with a REAL director like J. Lee Thompson.


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