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The Night of the Hunter film image, close-up on man

This unforgettable film was the only movie ever directed by the larger than life British actor Charles Laughton. It’s one of the strangest and most beguiling movies you’ll ever see. The story comes from a poetic, nightmarish novel by Davis Grubb, a fable about two children fleeing from a psychotic evangelical preacher (Robert Mitchum) who believes they know the whereabouts of a stash of money.

It’s set in the South during the Great Depression, and as well as shooting in black and white, Laughton adopts many of the techniques pioneered by DW Griffith in the silent era, such as expressionist lighting effects and beginning and closing scenes with an iris into a detail of the frame. He also cast Griffith’s favourite actress, Lillian Gish in a key role. But it’s Mitchum who will haunt your dreams. The words “Love” and “Hate” tattooed across his fingers, he turns in an uncharacteristically flamboyant performance that’s no less menacing for its twisted streak of black comedy. Sadly the movie was a flop and Laughton was forced to abandon plans to film Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead.

Sunday’s Pantheon screening will be preceded by a 15 minute introductory lecture and feature a book club-style discussion afterwards.

What a compelling, frightening and beautiful film it is! And how well it has survived its period. Many films from the mid-1950s, even the good ones, seem somewhat dated now, but by setting his story in an invented movie world outside conventional realism, Laughton gave it a timelessness.

Roger Ebert

 

Presented by

Director

Charles Laughton

Cast

Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish

Credits
Country of Origin

USA

Year

1955

Language

English

19+
92 min

Book Tickets

Sunday October 20

11:00 am
Guests/Q&As Hearing Assistance
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Tuesday October 22

5:50 pm
Hearing Assistance
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Credits

Screenwriter

James Agee

Cinematography

Stanley Cortez

Editor

Robert Golden

Original Music

Walter Schumann

Art Director

Hilyard Brown

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