541 The Night of the Hunter

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#251 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:18 pm

Just on a surface level, it's an ending in which the heroic victory is the destruction of a patriarchal force in favor of a non-nuclear family headed by a single mother; hardly the reinforcement of the conformist 50's structure.

(Also, if you don't find Icey Spoon's blood madness trying to lead a lynching party against Powell disturbing, I suspect we weren't watching the same movie.)

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gcgiles1dollarbin
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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#252 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:48 pm

^Yes and yes!

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tenia
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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#253 Post by tenia » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:08 am

knives wrote:It's also rather disturbed in its own way with the boy turning this venomous preacher into his father and being permanently broke as a result. For me it's one of the most disturbing endings ever made.
The final Lilian Gish speech is also a very sad one, loaded with guilt about what the parents' decisions, greed and cowardice makes to the childrend psyche.

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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#254 Post by tenia » Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:29 am

I don't know if anyone noticed it already, but there seems to be a Criterion re-release of Night of the Hunter BD planned for April 8th.
Still 2 discs, so it doesn't seem to be a DF update. Could it be a change of packaging ? It would be surprising to create a whole new reference just for a new pressing.

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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#255 Post by Iamspartacus » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:17 am

So does anyone have the scoop on the rerelease that is supposed to be out next Tuesday? Different packaging? Hasn't gotten much attention.

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Frumaster
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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#256 Post by Frumaster » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:20 pm

Where do you guys see a new version? If there is a new one coming out, I assume it will be in the 2-disc scanovo case.

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manicsounds
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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#257 Post by manicsounds » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:33 am


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Murdoch
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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#258 Post by Murdoch » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:57 pm

I just ordered the newest version of the blu-ray. Can anyone tell me what the interior packaging looks like (is it the love/hate hands inside)?

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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#259 Post by macaca » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:21 pm

Murdoch wrote:I just ordered the newest version of the blu-ray. Can anyone tell me what the interior packaging looks like (is it the love/hate hands inside)?
Image

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Murdoch
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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#260 Post by Murdoch » Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:46 pm

Thank you very much, greatly appreciated.

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Re: 541 The Night of the Hunter

#261 Post by Xanadu » Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:14 am

Hello everyone, during the court room scene there's no audio for 5 seconds before John is asked if Rev Harry Powell killed his mother. Was this intentional or did I get a bad disc? I have the second printing from 2014.

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Mr Sausage
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Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#262 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:38 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, November 7th

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domino harvey
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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#263 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:42 am

As is often the case, my esteem for this one rose once I taught it in my film studies course a few years ago. 'Round Halloween I gave the kids a couple options for a horror film from this era and this is the one they chose based on the description and Robert Mitchum (the other choice was the Spiral Staircase), and man, you haven't lived til you've seen teenagers tensed up and muttering "Oh no" from behind their hands as Mitchum makes his menacing pursuit. I honestly never considered the film scary, but it was fun to experience it vicariously through them!

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#264 Post by djproject » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:58 am

Continuing with domino harvey's post, I am also curious about everyone's general reaction either from the first time seeing this film or whenever it is viewed with some degree of regularity. Mostly because it does vary widely from person to person.

For myself, I find it more amusing and mostly because of how "apparent" (for lack of a better word at the moment) Harry Powell's ruse is. Apart from the obvious of being charged with a "holy mission of killin' and thievin'", I also have questioned the general theology of that part of the country. (I am not a formally trained theologian but I have done studies myself and I know plenty of theologically-minded people. And this is in the (Eastern) Orthodox tradition.) Thus, I also find how the adults react to him just as amusing. This is another title where I enjoy making my own riffs whilst watching it (not at all mocking at the film; just mocking the situation =] ).
Last edited by djproject on Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Drucker
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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#265 Post by Drucker » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:02 am

I'll certainly be participating this round and have been meaning to revisit this film. For those who haven't already had the chance, the commentary on this disc is excellent, and I'm sure my write-up will end up with a lot of the talking points from that commentary (especially the part about how it helps to think of the film being told from a child's perspective).

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Big Ben
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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#266 Post by Big Ben » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:11 am

"Chiiildren? Chiilldren?"

Brilliant film. I think it's a film that's both charming while being menacing. When you actually sit and think about the actual plot you have two young children being pursued by a serial killer. (I realize the summation sounds kind of dumb but when it hit me it hit me harder than it should have). (The Criterion commentary mentions how controversial certain aspects were and for good reason.)

Mitchum's performance is something to note here too as he suggests so much with his mild manners. So much so that when he actually explodes in anger it felt genuinely shocking to me and he plays a great bullshitter and con man. And yes, a killer. I think this performance stands out most to me, even above performances such as Out of the Past and The Friends of Eddie Coyle. I'm particularly fond of the scene where he explains he's been "ditched" and turned out of the bed.

Stanley Cortez, the cinematographer also shot it beautifully. Say what you want about the film but I've never seen anyone knock it for it's visuals. Whether it be the chase up the stairs or the haunted visage of the corpse at the bottom of the lake Night of the Hunter just bleeds atmosphere.

I realize I'm beating a dead horse when I say this but it's a damn shame Laughton didn't direct more features. Does anyone know if he planned anymore? My memory is failing me here.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#267 Post by teddyleevin » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:22 pm

djproject wrote:Continuing with domino harvey's post, I am also curious about everyone's general reaction either from the first time seeing this film or whenever it is viewed with some degree of regularity. Mostly because it does vary widely from person to person.
I saw it for the first time in my early twenties. I was by myself, it was on DVD, and it was late. I was on the edge of my seat in all of the most literal ways, and have continually considered it something of a horror film. On repeat watchings, some other elements of the film (minor moments of the script, acting, editing) might falter for me, but the ambience and tension always remains. I used Mitchum's singing as atmosphere for a production of the opera Susannah I had directed (and "Pretty Fly/Hush, Little One" in the intermission. Even the soundtrack greats a palpable sweat.

Will be rewatching shortly.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#268 Post by djproject » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:36 pm

Big Ben wrote:Does anyone know if he planned anymore? My memory is failing me here.
I believe there was one other title he was interested in doing with his manager at the time but I also forget for the life of me (I think it was mentioned in Charles Laughton Directs The Night of the Hunter, which is one of the best film production retrospective films I have seen.)

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tenia
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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#269 Post by tenia » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:41 pm

I discovered the movie when it got released on BD by Criterion, so I was 23 when I first saw it.

I didn't find it scary but it is a very tense movie, but it's also a beautiful one. It's a wicked harsh fairy tale, an initiatic one about a boy getting to learn how bad grown men can be, about lacking a proper fatherly figure and about how children are always the first to suffer. It's notably interesting to see John's reaction at the end of the movie, and the overall oppositely-extreme position of the crowd. I've revisited a few times the movie since, and I do believe this is the better part of the movie themes.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#270 Post by Feego » Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:58 pm

I first saw this film around the late 90s when I was 14 or 15. I honestly had no idea what it was or what to expect. I only watched it because I was just getting into classic films and had seen some of Lillian Gish's silents and thought it would be interesting to see her in a talkie! To be honest, the film was so bizarre that my reaction was just detached bafflement rather than any sense of fear. It was only on subsequent viewings that I began to appreciate its mixture of horror, humor and child's fable.

The one moment in the film that really sends chills down my spine now is Mitchum's animalistic scream just after the children escape in the boat. It was interesting to see from the outtakes included on the Criterion Blu that what seems to be a drawn-out scream is in fact just a brief yelp that was expanded and echoed in post.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#271 Post by Roscoe » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:24 pm

I have a hard time with this film. I was given a copy of the book to read when I was a kid and just devoured it, it was one of my real favorites for many years, I read it so often I probably had chunks of it committed to memory. At that time the movie was virtually unseeable -- these were the dark days before home video, and it has to be remembered that NOTH wasn't even available on home video for a long time. I'd kept hearing how brilliant it was, and when I saw it at long last I was expecting something really special, and I'm afraid those hopes were dashed when I sat there hating damn near every minute of it. It just skims along the surface of the plot, never once making me give a damn about those awful kids -- I'd have been perfectly willing to let Preacher slit their throats and leave them to drip like hogs in butchering time.

I'm in the most minor of minorities on this one. It's clearly a case, for me, of "the book is just unbelievably, incredibly better in every way." Mitchum's schoolmarmish "ChiiiiiiiildREN?" is the sole highlight of the film for me.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#272 Post by Newsnayr » Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:15 pm

I rewatched it recently (saw it for the first time last year) and was struck by how profoundly coded the religious aspects are; like some of the other great films that deal with religion, it rejects organized religion, embodied by Powell (though of course his is a far different case) and the community, in favor of the purity of faith represented by Mrs. Cooper.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#273 Post by Feego » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:26 am

Roscoe wrote:It just skims along the surface of the plot, never once making me give a damn about those awful kids -- I'd have been perfectly willing to let Preacher slit their throats and leave them to drip like hogs in butchering time.
The child actors have always been something of a sore spot for me. Over the years, their performances have grown on me, and seeing the outtakes on the Criterion disc where we hear Laughton directing Shelley Winters over and over to show less emotion has made me see that he basically took advantage of the kids' amateurish line readings as part of the overall artifice. Both of the children are fantastic when they're silent. The little girl looks eerily like a china doll, and her sing-song delivery ("John made a SIN. John told a LIE." / "It's in my DOLL, it's in my DOLL!") has it's own charm. I'm still not entirely sold on Billy Chapin's line readings though. I feel like he is meant to provide a real emotional core to the film, but he never quite reaches it. The moment that he sees Mitchum being captured and begs for the money to be taken back should be devastating, but his delivery is weak. He's the one weak spot for me in an otherwise brilliantly acted film.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#274 Post by djproject » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:05 am

Newsnayr wrote:I rewatched it recently (saw it for the first time last year) and was struck by how profoundly coded the religious aspects are; like some of the other great films that deal with religion, it rejects organized religion, embodied by Powell (though of course his is a far different case) and the community, in favor of the purity of faith represented by Mrs. Cooper.
That's why I found it funny for theological reasons. Of course, my basis of comparison is [Eastern] Orthodoxy but I certainly knew what was practiced in that part of the country. While I do believe all can be deceived by a wolf in sheep's clothing, some fall for it more easily than others.

Since you pointed out the contrast between the children's hometown and Mrs. Cooper, it's interesting that what the latter has (in abundance) more compassion and mercy than the former. Even when she is stern and maintains order, she never ostracizes. The best example of this is when she deals with Ruby: Ruby lied to Mrs. Cooper for months, though she suspected something was happening; yet when the truth was revealed, Mrs. Cooper never diminished her compassion and even showed mercy (not the same as excusing or condoning her actions). I would imagine if someone like Pearl at Ruby's age did what Ruby did and Madam Spoons found out, there would be hell raised. And this was long after Harry Powell came to town.

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Re: Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

#275 Post by djproject » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:14 am

Feego wrote:
Roscoe wrote:I'm still not entirely sold on Billy Chapin's line readings though. I feel like he is meant to provide a real emotional core to the film, but he never quite reaches it. The moment that he sees Mitchum being captured and begs for the money to be taken back should be devastating, but his delivery is weak. He's the one weak spot for me in an otherwise brilliantly acted film.
Revisiting it recently, I would agree. However, I am wondering if the direction is partly to blame in that it seemed that Laughton was focusing on a particular result in any given moment (as seen in the outtakes) and not thinking about how it would flow together. This is not a fault of Laughton; rather this is an indicator of directorial inexperience. I'm convinced that if he had the opportunity to make another film, he would have used what he had learned from making The Night of the Hunter to make a better film (and The Night of the Hunter is not at all bad film by any means).

In general, there is an unevenness throughout the film, which could explain the initial frustration people had with it to start. Of course, this is not really a bad trait because I think this unevenness gives it its charm. But I think it is there (and not just with the children).

(Then again, I also never believe one could ever make a "perfect film" and I personally don't see weaknesses in a film as some demerit point or black mark against it. It's just a quality that makes that film that film.)
Last edited by djproject on Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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