This visually ravishing, authentically terrifying Southern Gothic masterpiece is one of the cinema's great one-offs, not just because it was the only film directed by the actor Charles Laughton.
Robert Mitchum gives a career-best performance as Harry Powell, a self-appointed preacher with 'LOVE' and 'HATE' tattooed on his knuckles who travels to a small town in search of his executed cellmate's stash of cash, under the impression that his two young children know its whereabouts.
But the film's melodramatic plot plays second fiddle to some of the most extraordinary images ever captured on film. Laughton and cinematographer Stanley Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons) imbue almost every shot with a luminosity that recalls the great silent masterpieces of F.W. Murnau and Victor Sjöström. A widely misunderstood flop at the time (which put Laughton off ever directing again), it's now regarded as one of the greatest of all American films.
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Absolutely love the feel of this film and had to own it. Seeing how I'm a Arrow Video nut, I decided to go with Arrow Films release instead of Criterions. The artwork is beautiful and the booklet is really nice. I'm not disappointed and am proud to own it in my collection.
Well, Arrow Academy, you've done it again! There is really no stopping independent distribution label Arrow Films, who have made their presence known in the work of classic and cult film restoration. Working across a number of sub-departments (Arrow Video/Arrowdrome - Cult/Exploitation, Arrow Academy - Classics, Arrow Films - Independent Features) they have resurrected popular and forgotten gems and given them a 5 start treatment. Typically you will be gifted with not only the finest presentation of the film you love (or loved, or will love again!) but also with a myriad of special features including documentaries, making-of's, rare interviews and publicity materials. To wrap up the package you get... well... the packaging, with new or re-commissioned art, steelbooks and window-boxes, together with replica posters and lavish booklets containing many new writings and stills - all in all an exemplary addition to anyone's DVD and Blu Ray collection. The Night of the Hunter is no exception. Drenched in gothic dread with all the sensibilities of a silent movie, the story weaves around the evil greed of a self-appointed preacher, manipulating his way into the southern household of the dead cell-mate who 'spilled the beans' on the location of his cash-stash. Cue incredible (and often quite surreal) imagery, masterful dialogue and performances worthy of any Academy committee! Brit actor Charles Laughton's one and only directorial effort (criminally he never made another following the poor critical response) is a sight to behold, and Arrow have indeed given their token (and loving) 5 star treatment to this little gem, which has never looked so good. The audio is exceptional, with Walter Shumann's haunting score ringing as clear as a bell. If you've never seen this movie, why not? Its' influence can be felt in many contemporary works and (thankfully) it is now recognised as a true classic. Zavvi, I applaud you for not only the price (an 'offer you can't refuse'!!!) but also your speedy dispatch. So long as Arrow are restoring and you are selling, I'll be buying!
Comparing to the Criterion there is an amount of missing extras but otherwise this is a rock solid edition for movie fans. Recommended !!