The Night of the Hunter Overview:

The Night of the Hunter (1955) was a Film Noir - Drama Film directed by Charles Laughton and Terry Sanders and produced by Paul Gregory.

The film was based on the novel of the same name written by Davis Grubb published in 1953.


In this eerie meditation on good and evil, a murderous "preacher" with the elemental forces of "love" and "hate" tattooed on each hand relentlessly hunts two small children across the Depression-era Bible Belt to get at their dead father's stolen fortune. He marries then kills their mother (Winters), and the children flee on a nighttime river odyssey to the protection of Gish. In the only directorial effort by Laughton (from a screenplay by Agee), Mitchum turns in the performance of his career, with Gish as costar and camerawork by Cortez, of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). A dreamlike parable laced with stunningly orchestrated symbolism. Despite current critical acclaim, it was a box-office flop and was nominated for no Academy Awards.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


The Night of the Hunter was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1992.

BlogHub Articles:

Robert Mitchum, Shelly Winters, and Lillian Gish star in "The Night of the Hunter"

By Stephen Reginald on May 30, 2023 From Classic Movie Man

Robert Mitchum, Shelly Winters, and Lillian Gish star in "The Night of the Hunter" The Night of the Hunter (1955) is an American thriller directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, Shelly Winters, and Lillian Gish. The supporting cast includes James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Billy ... Read full article

The Night of the Hunter (1955), Charles Laughton’s horrifying masterpiece

By Carol Martinheira on Oct 8, 2021 From The Old Hollywood Garden

The Night of the Hunter (1955), Charles Laughton’s horrifying masterpiece On October 8, 2021October 8, 2021 By CarolIn Uncategorized Can you believe it?s October already? I certainly can?t. But you know what that means. Horror Month is here! And we kick off t... Read full article

Silver Screen Standards: The Night of the Hunter (1955)

By Jennifer Garlen on Sep 8, 2020 From Classic Movie Hub Blog

Silver Screen Standards: The Night of the Hunter (1955) The Night of the Hunter (1955) is such a haunting and unusual film that I often wonder what else Charles Laughton might have produced had he directed any more movies, but if he was only going to direct once at least we got this picture to sh... Read full article

1001 Classic Movies: The Night of the Hunter

By Amanda Garrett on Jul 29, 2017 From Old Hollywood Films

The Night of the Hunter (1955) is one of the 1001 classic movies you should see. It stars Robert Mitchum as a preacher/ex-convict who is after $10,000 in stolen money. Each week, I'm going to recommend a classic movie you should see (for the reasons behind the 1001 series and reviews of earlier f... Read full article

ClassicFlix (Teen Scene): The Night of the Hunter (1955)

By Virginie Pronovost on Jun 29, 2017 From The Wonderful World of Cinema

From March 2015 to April 2017, I was writing the monthly Teen Scene column for the website ClassicFlix. My objective was to promote classic films among teenagers and young adults. Due to the establishing of a new version of the website, it?s now more difficult to access to the old version and read t... Read full article

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Quotes from

Rachel Cooper: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them.

Icey Spoon: A husband's one piece of store goods you never know 'til you get it home and take the paper off.

Rachel Cooper: She'll be losing her mind to a tricky mouth and a full moon, and like as not, I'll be saddled with the consequences.

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Facts about

Reports that screenwriter James Agee wrote an incoherent screenplay have been proved false by the 2004 discovery of his first draft. That document, although 293 pages in length, and manifestly overwritten (as is common with first drafts), is, scene-for-scene, the film that Charles Laughton directed. Likewise false are the reports that Agee was fired, related most infamously in Robert Mitchum's autobiography. Laughton, however much he gnashed his teeth at having such a behemoth of a text in his hands with only five weeks to go before the start of principal photography, calmly renewed Agee's contract and directed him to cut it in half; after much persuasion, he did. In Laughton's stage work ("Galileo", "Cain Mutiny Court Martial", etc), the great actor demonstrated he was a script editor of genius - he could induce the most stubborn and prideful writer to cut, cut, cut, and so he did in Agee's case. Later, apparently at Robert Mitchum's request, Agee visited the set to settle a dispute between the star and Laughton. Letters and documents located in the archive of Agee's agent Paul Kohner bear this out -- they were brought to light by Laughton biographer Simon Callow, whose excellent BFI book about "Night of the Hunter" diligently sets this part of the record
So disappointed was he by the poor reception of this film on its initial release both critically and commercially, Charles Laughton vowed never to direct a film again, and he never did. The film he was planning to direct next was going to be a screen adaptation of "The Naked and the Dead."
According to Robert Mitchum's autobiography, Mitchum himself was openly contemptuous of Shelley Winters throughout the shooting of the film, and later claimed to have wished Charles Laughton had actually used Winters in the scene when her character's body is seen dead underwater.
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National Film Registry

The Night of the Hunter

Released 1955
Inducted 1992

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Also directed by Charles Laughton

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Also produced by Paul Gregory

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