I am cheating a bit here, as I wrote this piece for another blogathon earlier this year. However, I missed the due date for this month’s Blindspot, and rather than speed-writing a brand new piece that would probably turn out crappy, I thought I’d watch this classic for a second time and rewrite this as thoroughly as I could, as Night of the Hunter was on my Blindspot list originally (something I managed to forget when originally writing it!) and it was a movie that I needed to see again. Additionally, I like the Blindspot blogathon and want to stick it out, as I have movies I simply -must- see on my list!!



The Night of The Hunter is an eerie and highly symbolic film, a deceptively simple tale of good versus evil. The ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing, representing evil is our villain: Preacher Harry Powell. He is a conman who dresses as a preacher to misguide suspicion. However, he also sincerely believes he is a man of God. Near the beginning of the film, we see his casual attitude to what he has already committed as he speaks to God: “How many has it been? Six?… Twelve? I disremember”.

‘Disremember’, ha! I’ll never forget that line. Harry Powell is the ultimate embodiment of a religious fanatic, taking the bible literally, clearly delusional as he decides that if God killed so many people, why can’t he?


After the film’s surreal opening, we are misled as we hear the sounds of children playing, but as the camera brings us down from high in the sky we see the children discovering the Preacher’s most recent victim. Not caught for that crime, he is soon caught driving a stolen car, and ends up in court. We then see the fate of another man, Ben Harper, who after stealing ten thousand dollars, gives his secret to his son and doesn’t break when questioned. We don’t see exactly where Harper decides to stash the money either, adding an element of tension and uncertainty to the story.

Sentenced to death, his short time spent in jail is in the same cell as our preacher. Harry Powell has decided that God has put him in this cell, with a man who he decides must have stashed that money. Somewhere, and it is his holy mission to retrieve it for himself.

Upon release, Powell decides to head to the town where Harper’s widow and two children reside, the children obviously representing the good in this story. The way the preacher first makes his presence to the children is truly chilling.

night hunter giffy

The use of shadows is not limited to this scene, as for the entirety of the film they are used in spectacular fashion. It is hard to imagine that this was a debut directorial effort, as the use of light and dark looks like that of a master, experienced, director. Just look below at how a simple scene inside a house is transformed into a surreal, almost disturbing image:


The film continues in a creepy direction as this conman quickly makes the widow his wife, and doesn’t waste his time in asking about the money. In a sequence filled with symbolic imagery that I am sure means something to a religious scholar, the children manage to escape the menacing Preacher by sailing up-river – a truly unforgettable sequence of events as the children become one with nature.


One shot in particular that stuck in my mind was the image of a cobweb placed over the scene of the children sailing downstream, the sort of inventive camerawork that is almost extinct today.


The preacher however is relentless in following them, often making his presence known by singing a hymn that sounds like a lullaby, but his intentions change the nature of the song entirely. After watching this I still cannot get those creepy lullabies out of my head.

“Leeeeeaning, leeeeaning, leaning on the everlaaaasting arms”


One thing I love about this film is that not only is it a tale of good versus evil, it is a story about an adult hunting down two children, who make it quickly apparent that they tougher than their looks would have you believe. It is also the perfect movie to illustrate the evils that can come from taking a holy book literally. The climax of the film is fantastic and is filled with suspense, while the ending is unlike too many films of today’s cinema; the meaning of it all is left to the viewer to decide.

Watching this reminded me of how I originally got into cinema – by working from the start through Kubrick’s filmography, followed by Polanski. I will always prefer their older films and they somehow feel more natural to me that recent film does. I was born four decades too late it seems, as older music and film has always evoked more emotion from me.

Overall, Night of the Hunter deserves its status as a classic. It is impeccably filmed and the acting is top notch, with Robert Mitchum’s deep voice adding even more menace to his preacher character. It is a real shame that Charles Laughton didn’t direct another film after this, as he clearly knew what he was doing. The camerawork here is top notch, as well as the symbolic imagery that is littered throughout the film. This is not a film to be missed, and anyone reading this needs to see it, soon!



  1. Brilliant review Jordan, you really captured the essence of this film. It’s truly terrifying and chilling. Though I must admit the “mob mentality” in it does make me laugh at times. The way they all love the preacher then hate him at the end! Pitchforks!!!!!!

    I think it bombed when it was first released and got pretty slated. Charles Laughton got all uppity and swore to never make a film again. Shame.

    I must buy this on DVD!!!! MMMMM’KAY!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes you must! I got the cri-blu (at least I think it is) and it is totally worth it. Such a good movie. Tho I agree, the mob mentality is quite funny!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you know what I mean! It might be the southern accents as well but they just make me chuckle, especially that old lady that leads the mob!!

        I think I’ll purchase this next pay day, I need it!!!!!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes it is an essential movie to own as far as I’m concerned. A true classic. And it has aged so well!

        hahaha I can hear that lady with the southern accent know. She basically forced the poor woman to marry her!!


      • 🙂 It just means a lot, I don’t have much confidence in myself, almost like I need constant validation that my writing isn’t totally shit and worthless pursuing. Your comments are always really appreciated EmmmmKay 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh that just breaks my heart!!! You’re such a lovely guy Jordan! You’re funny and kind and you write sensationally. I LOOK FORWARD to your posts especially the Archway Chronicles 🙂

        I’m the same, if someone compliments me I think “are they mad?!” or “what are they after?” ha ha, so I do know what you mean.

        I’m really glad we met my Ozzy friend 🙂 Emmmmmmm’Kay 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 You’re a great person too Em. Thanks so much for the kind words, it is really touching 🙂 🙂 I’m really glad we met too!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Jordan, your kind words mean a lot too!! (they really do!)

        Keep believing in yourself and keep on trucking, you’re doing GREAT! And you’re a great person too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • You don’t have to say thanks, I mean every word I say and I think you’re a bloody diamond!!!! I really look forward to talking with you and reading your posts, I just think you’re such a laugh and a really nice guy 🙂 plus you’re someone who understands why Wolf Creek 2 is fun entertainment!!!!! And you’re very kind too :p

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know! I’m not really sure if it was critic reaction or what, but it’s very strange. I think Laughton was quite an arrogant man though, like he could have ignored it but he took it to heart.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with your sentiments. You’d think arrogance would lead to tough skin. I guess if he was arrogant it was just a mask he wore, to hide the fact that in reality he wasn’t so confident. Who knows? But yeah, it does suck that this is the only film he made. It is quite extraordinary, and looks like a directors fourth of fifth film, not his first!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, yes you are probs right. The arrogance is a mask to cover up how thin-skinned they are in reality and they don’t want the public to see that. At least that is my take on it.

        And Trump running for president, haha it seems like a George Carlin or Bill Hicks joke come true!! I don’t think he’ll ever have a chance though, doesn’t most of the US just laugh at him whenever he is on TV anyways?

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right. It is a mask.
        As far as Trump is concerned he’s a dream come true for the late night comedians. Unfortunately, there’s quite a lot of people who are fed up with Washington politicians, and as a result he’s actually leading his Republican contenders right now. Hopefully this will die down after the first debate when people see what an idiot he is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know that about Trump. I agree, hopefully that dies down. It’d be horrible if it came down to only him and one other guy!!

        Its funny, you’re right he is the perfect fodder for comedians, though John Oliver doesn’t reference him very often. he probably thinks he is just too easy a target!!


      • Yeah, I can understand it though. It was his first effort, if it bombed and if he is anything like I am, he would be telling himself ‘pfff everyone hated it, why bother again’

        or perhaps he was just a total dick, I don’t know haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I agree with that. And even if he was a dick, he could be a dick if he wanted!

        Plus they did ask him to play Quasimodo!!! Poor bloke lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • People don’t like confronting issues, generally. This one is confronting, it doesn’t actually surprise me that it didn’t fare well in the box office. However it is also no surprise to me that i has become a cult classic… I mean, its bloody awesome!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha indeed! It’s odd how it works like that. I guess with more years to analyse it people realise what they didn’t see the first time.


      • They really are aren’t they? The entire movie is beautiful, a fantastic example of B&W being utilised extremely well. Gotta love a good oldie that is in B&W that really makes use of the lack of colour.

        Kinda like the Coen’s The Man Who Wasn’t There, which was an amazing movie that was all in B&W and shadows and darkness were used extremely well. Obviously that is a modern example but they’re choice to film it in B&W wasn’t just a gimmick, they really made the most of it!

        Though in my mind the Coens can do no wrong hehe 😀


  2. Great review Jordan! This is one of those films I still need to see, as it’s been recommended to me several times. The camera work does look fantastic, looks so eerie and atmospheric.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hell yeah Ruth, this is a classic you must see! 🙂 The use of shadows, light and dark, those pics really illustrate how well it was shot. I still find it hard to believe this was a debut effort! Such a pity the guy didn’t make anymore films


  3. That cobweb I remember vividly, the use of shadows and lighting is extraordinary. Mitchum is pretty creepy in this one. Good point that the kids are tougher than their looks would have you believe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting mate 🙂 Yeah the shadows and light really are used incredibly. And Mitchums deep voice makes those lullabies sounds so creepy!!!

      And yeah, the cobweb shot is amazing and hard to forget


  4. Really good post. I love older movies as well. It’s so much more beautiful when you know how hard they worked for those shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: BLINDSIDED BY: CITIZEN KANE [1941] | epileptic moondancer

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