PG, 1 hr. 33 min. Directed By: Charles Laughton. Release Date: Jan 1, 1955. DVD Release Date: May 15, 2001.
I’m going to start by saying that this movie has a single flaw, and I struggled with accommodating that. The Night of the Hunter just simply didn’t age well. It took me about half the movie to realize that once upon a time, before stalker movies, and well, the 1980s just in general, this probably would have been terrifying, or at least nerve-wracking. I haven’t seen the original Cape Fear, but I’m thinking that once upon a time Night would have had the same impact as Cape Fear, which managed to freak me out back in the 90s. Although, to be fair, it wasn’t until the final… 30 minutes of the movie that it finally dawned on me that this probably would have been scary (and in fact, that this movie was SUPPOSED to be scary) to the original audiences.
It is REALLY hard to get past that. As a result, I didn’t love this movie. I can see that the camera work (except for the zoom ins) and most of the acting was remarkably good. I especially liked Robert Mitchum, who was actually the only member of this cast that I’d heard of prior to this movie, was pretty good. There were a couple of scenes that I thought were way too hokey, and he was the direct creator of that feeling, but overall I have generally positive thoughts about what I just saw.
I had some issues with the story flow. Particularly, I was really, really confused about where the mob came from. Normally, I’m anti-mob unless I’m at its head, and this was no exception. I’m not sure what the hell they were yelling about, or why the mob was charging, but hey, it was there and seemingly unnerving Ms. Cooper and her brood. It reminded me a bit of the scene from Archer where all the drones start protesting their salaries with “What do we want? CHANGE! When do we want it? UNFAIR!” I tried to go hunting for the clip, because it’s pretty funny, but YouTube has failed me yet again. I’m also astounded that the preacher didn’t expect a gun in some farmhouse out on the edges of town. Shit, I went to dinner with seven people about a month ago and I was the only one without a gun AT THE RESTAURANT. The rest of these people actually had more guns at home.
It also kind of cracks me up that in the 50s there were still teenage boys in town trying to chase tail, and apparently successfully based on what Ruby ‘fesses up to. Cheebus. Talk about shattering a myth.