THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) B/W widescreen 93m dir: Charles Laughton
w/Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Shelley Winters, Billy Chapin, Peter Graves, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Sally Jane Bruce, Don Beddoe, Gloria Castillo
A masterpiece, the only directorial effort by actor Laughton. Nightmarishly haunting parable of children on the run from their evil preacher-stepfather. Mitchum gives his greatest performance as the avaricious false preacher who spellbinds adults and scares children. (This is the movie where he has "LOVE" tattooed on the fingers of one hand and "HATE" on the other.) Gish is simply perfect as the good woman who tries to save the children.
From The Movie Guide: "Working from a script by James Agee (THE AFRICAN QUEEN), Laughton created what he called "a nightmarish sort of Mother Goose tale," employing an eclectic mix of visual styles (German expressionism, D.W. Griffith) to convey both the horror of Powell's [Mitchum's] quest and the idyllic flight of the children to the safety of the farm of an old spinster (Gish). In addition to Stanley Cortez's stunning cinematography, the film boasts Robert Mitchum's greatest performance --- a chilling essay that would unfortunately typecast him for much of his career. Beautiful, haunting, poetic, and intensely personal, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is a unique, terrifying masterpiece. The adaptation of the Davis Grubb novel was the last film work by James Agee. Audiences didn't know what to make of this one; it bombed, and the great Laughton never directed again."