the night of the hunter

I was going to blog about politics tonight (word is that indictments will probably come down from Fitzgerald tomorrow), but I just stumbled across a Metafilter post about one of my favorite films, Charles Laughton’s only directorial effort, The Night of the Hunter, and I’ve decided to head into the other room and fire up the VCR instead… And, in case anyone in my family is wondering what I might want for Christmas, I think this book about the filming of the movie sounds like a pretty good bet.

I don’t know if anyone will want to, what with all the excitement over the indictments, but if you have a favorite scene in the film, and feel like sharing, leave a comment. I think mine own personal favorite is the sequence when the kids are in the boat, floating silently down the river, while watching Robert Mitchum’s sillouette against the evening sky… or, better yet, how about that shot of Shelly Winters at the bottom of the lake… What a fucking brilliant film.

On a somewhat related note, Brett and I were recently talking about the possibility of pulling together a little Ypsi film festival (I’m lobbying for an outdoor one this spring) and I can’t imagine a better film to include.

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18 Comments

  1. Dan from Austin
    Posted October 26, 2005 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    The image your describe is th eone that comes to mind first for me. Sort of an extremely frightening “it’s a small word” ride…
    This movie is amazing. I always wondered why Laughton didn;t make more films. I decided that when you make “Night of the Hunter” you don’t need to make any othe films.

  2. Posted October 26, 2005 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    I’ve never seen the movie, but it sounds eerie and interesting. I’ll go rent it today.

    Ypsi Film Festival? How about Frog Island, with the Freighthouse as a backup in case of rain? What movies besides Tucker have been set in Ypsi?

  3. dorothy
    Posted October 26, 2005 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    i recently purchased the movie and was surprised when my ten year old grandson actually enjoyed it. he usually walks away from black and white films because he says they don’t look realistic. to my surprise, he told me he thought it was “beautiful,” meaning the photography.

  4. Julie Abuelsamid
    Posted October 26, 2005 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    One of the best films ever! Lillian Gish is wonderful and well, Robert Mitchum will always be the Man. I also showed it to my kids a few years ago and they thought it was great. Dan, your comment about wondering why Laughton never directed another film is spot on. That’s the conclusion I came to, also. I think it’s very likely that most people only have a couple of brilliant creative wonders in them but they keep getting job offers based on their past brilliance (I can think of many people this pertains to.)
    Unless I’m wrong, To Kill a Mockingbird was Harper Lee’s only book. But wow. I guess some people just know when to stop.

  5. DR
    Posted October 26, 2005 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    It was Harper Lee’s only book, but she did accompany Truman Capote to Kansas to do research for In Cold Blood, another great book (way better than TKAM, I think).

  6. Posted October 26, 2005 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Clueless here: does he have “love” tatooed on his hand or is that a photoshop add-on? If so, is there any relationship between the movie and Bruce Springsteen’s song “Cautious Man” (Tunnel of Love) which contains the lyric “on his right hand Billy’d tatooed the word LOVE and on his left hand, was the word FEAR?” That was always a very vivid image and I was struck to see it on the picture you included.

  7. Teddy Glass
    Posted October 26, 2005 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Laughton never directed again because the critics hated the film. I’ve never read the reviews, and I can’t imagine what it might be that they didn’t like, but that’s the story.

    As for “LOVE,” yes, it was on his hand. His other hand read, “HATE,” and the best scene of the film has to be when Mitchum, the evil preacher, tells the story of Brother Love and Brother Hate.

  8. Posted October 26, 2005 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have to second the tattooed fingers for most memorable element.

    I remember when I first stumbled upon the film years ago, after having already enjoyed Mitchum’s antics as a private eye, and then finding reference to a film in which he plays a minister….only to learn that the ‘minister’ is actually a character of pure evil. Needless to say, I can’t think of a movie I’ve rented so quickly.

    “Tucker” completely sucked. Completely. I even like Joe Jackson, who did the score, and it even had Dean Stockwell as Howard Hughes, but still sucked. As for other movies set in Ypsi, all I know about are a couple car commercials and the Unsolved Mysteries episode, so we’ll be hard pressed to come up with a film festival based on that theme.

    I had been thinking of early silent films, myself, as they’re mostly in the public domain, and they’re also just about the only movies i can stand to watch anymore.

  9. chris
    Posted October 26, 2005 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Wait…”Night of the Hunter” was shot in Ypsilanti? I thought it was all studio shot. A most beautiful and fascinating film. Mitchum scared the shit out of me in that movie. Almost, as scary as Cape Fear.

    Also, amazing trivia regarding Truman’s travel partner to Kansas.

  10. mark
    Posted October 26, 2005 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    I’d love it if a rumor got started that Night of the Hunter was shot here in Ypsi.

    I’ll start working on a t-shrit design right now… Robert Mitchum with “YPSI” written across his knuckles, and a little blurb about how it was shot here… A very cool follow up to our “Iggy Pop was from Ypsi” shirt.

  11. Shanster
    Posted October 27, 2005 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Tucker wasn’t even shot in Ypsi. But scenes from Vegas Vacation and Biker Zombies were!

  12. Posted October 27, 2005 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I have to watch this movie now.

    actually I think I’ll read the book first.

  13. Teddy Glass
    Posted October 27, 2005 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe you, Shanster.

    Can you proove it?

  14. Shanster
    Posted October 27, 2005 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, I can’t. The imdb said it was so. Here’s the link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120434/locations
    Sorry, someday I’ll figure out how to do the link thing.

  15. Posted October 28, 2005 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Night of the Hunter is one of my favorites, too.

    “Leaning, leaning…”

  16. mark
    Posted October 28, 2005 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    If we can finally get the Ypsi Sentinel up and running and I have time to take on another project, I want to start up a committee to look into the possibility of an Ypsi guerilla drivein. I

  17. Shanster
    Posted November 1, 2005 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I just finished watching it. Thanks for the recommendation. Mitchum is great.

  18. mark
    Posted November 1, 2005 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad that we can agree on something, my friend.

    Oh… while we’re on the subject, I wanted to share two little tid-bits that I picked up this weekend while cruising around looking for information about the film. Unfortunately, I no longer remember where either came from, and I haven’t had a chance to verify the information… So, take it with a grain of salt.

    These are quotes taken from on-line forums where Night of the Hunter has been discussed:

    – “I have read stories about a hard-drinking Mitchum being particularly ugly to Laughton and his lover on location, despite whatever performance the Director managed to control on-set.”

    – “Charles Laughton was married to Elsa Lanchester (Bride of Frankenstein). Today is her birthday. She knew he was gay but married him anyway. She really really loved him, and he would never have married anyone but her. He had his male lovers and she had her male lovers.”

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