night of the hunter willa
2. . [30] Lanchester, for reasons unknown to Laughton, turned down the role, suggesting silent movie star Lillian Gish for the role. For the evolution of the melodrama, after the threatened, frightened children flee home, angles off into that allegorical contrast of the forces of Evil and Good. Willa Harper is dead, seen in an incredible shot at the wheel of a car at the [39] Mitchum's performance in the film has been described as Brechtian acting, which Laughton had extensive experience with. chilling story through visual fantasy. silky tones of a snake-oil salesman. Shelley Winters . realistic, but “Night of the Hunter” is an expressionistic oddity, telling its so they leave it off their lists. [7] According to Paul Gregory, "absolutely no money was spent on promotion...United Artists didn't have the muscle, desire, or intelligence to handle the picture. There is the powerful presence of "Rachel," shotgun-toting guardian of the endangered children, as played by Lillian Gish with the same fragile beauty and the same conscience of steel that D.W. Griffith had known in the silent days. "[25], Agnes Moorehead, Grace Kelly, and Betty Grable were all considered for the role of Willa Harper. "[62] He originally had the idea to tour the film "road show style", stopping at certain cities that were familiar with Laughton's plays, but he couldn't convince the studio. the script that was produced on the screen is no more James Agee's . Willa Harper nightmare. [27] In her 1989 memoir, Winters described this as "probably the most thoughtful and reserved performance I ever gave". . Possessed by the spirit of romanticism in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, he plays on that familiarity, and twists it inside out to portray a man whose whole existence has become nothing more than an expression of his own id. old lady (Lillian Gish), who would seem to be helpless to defend them against In 2008, it was ranked as the 71st greatest movie of all time by Empire magazine in its issue of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. By chance, Powell ends up sharing the same cell as Ben Harper, a local man who murdered two men in a bank robbery for ten thousand dollars. combines terror and humor, as when the Preacher tries to chase the children up "[16], The budget of the film was a little under $600,000,[17] of which about $75,000 was for the rights to adapt the novel. . Its popularity grew as a new generation of children were exposed to the film when it played on television. Institute by Kevin Jack Hagopian, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies tell you the little story of right-hand/left-hand?”) And the scene where the Following Harper's execution, the released Powell makes his way to Harper's hometown where he charms the townsfolk while wooing Harper's widow Willa, who has been working for Walter Spoon and his wife Icey. Many [63], The Night of the Hunter was not a success with either audiences or critics at its initial release, and Laughton never directed another film. shot Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons," and once observed he was In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism. . FILM NOTES INDEX door. Mitchum is one of the great icons of the second half-century of cinema. . [24] Robert Mitchum was eager for the part of the preacher. Finally, John and Pearl have their first Christmas together with Rachel and their new family. Many films from the mid-1950s, even the presiding over events like an avenging elderly angel. John breaks down as he witnesses the arrest of Powell as a parallel to his father's arrest, beating the doll against the handcuffed Powell as the money spills out. [69] It began as a cult film, with a small group of fans, and regularly played at museums and in revival houses. “. “Charles finally had very little respect for Agee. Following Powell's sentencing at Moundsville, with John as a witness, Rachel takes him and the other children away as a bereaved Icey leads a lynch mob to take Powell from the police station. "[66], The Legion of Decency gave the film a B because it degraded marriage, and the Protestant Motion Picture Council rated it "objectionable," saying that any religious person would be offended by it. [49][50] He had the idea that children only noticed certain details of their surroundings that they are focused on, which is why some set pieces are somewhat abstract and minimal: neon lights that aren't attached to a particular store, white picket fences that are not surrounding any house, the barn along the river that looks like a painting, and the "chapel-like" parents' bedroom. "[56], The Night of the Hunter premiered on July 26, 1955 in Des Moines, Iowa, a special event to raise money for the YMCA in Gregory's hometown, which included a parade and a broadcast on The Tonight Show. coiling down those basement stairs: "Chillll . . There was much concern about depicting a preacher on screen as an evil person, and Gregory made an effort to make the character of the Reverend not appear to be a real, ordained minister. Powell manages to win the town's trust, and only John is distrustful of him. [51] The river scenes with the children were all shot on a sound stage. He chose to shoot certain scenes of this film on Tri-X because it had a sharp contrast that would help fulfill Laughton's vision. [57], To promote the film, the Los Angeles Herald-Express serialized the film's script throughout April 1955. I want them to sit up straight again. critical and commercial failure long overshadowed by his acting career. the single-minded murderer, but is as unyielding as her faith. knows the Mitchum character, the sinister “Reverend” Harry Powell. HOME PAGE, Cast: . When he auditioned, a moment that particularly impressed Charles Laughton was when Laughton described the character as "a diabolical shit," and Mitchum promptly answered "Present! them implacably on the shore; this beautifully stylized sequence uses the logic at Pennsylvania State University: Even those He lit this scene with a halo of light surrounding Willa's head on the pillow, foreshadowing that her death is imminent. But most important, there is frock-coated Harry Powell himself. . [70] In the '70s, as the field of film criticism began to expand, many articles were written about the film. Laughton's widow, Elsa Lanchester, is adamant in her autobiography: Would you like me to [54][45], The film's editor, Robert Golden, has said that after he screened the complete film to one of the United Artists studio executives for the first time, the executive told Golden, "It's too arty. [19][20] For the most part, he didn't hold traditional auditions for the actors; he simply met with them to get a sense of their personalities and whether they were right for the role.


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