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The Night of the Hunter [C. Laughton]

The Night of the Hunter [1955]—incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed—is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic—also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish and writer James Agee—is cinema’s most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil.

• A trailer  →http://www.criterion.com/films/27525-the-night-of-the-hunter

←[clip]

Ah, little lad, you’re staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand/left-hand? The story of good and evil?

H-A-T-E! It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low.

L-O-V-E! You see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends, the hand of love.

Now watch, and I’ll show you the story of life. Those fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warring and a-tugging, one agin t’other. Now watch ‘em! Old brother left hand, left hand he’s a-fighting, and it looks like love’s a goner. But wait a minute! Wait a minute! Hot dog, love’s a-winning! Yessirree! It’s love that’s won, and old left hand hate is down for the count!

•→http://filmnoirfoundation.org/noircitymag/Night-of-the-Hunter.pdf

The film is based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Davis Grubb←[click to read], adapted for the screen by James Agee and Laughton.

Here you can listen to Charles Laughton himself, telling the story with his own movie illustrations!

«Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.»

[Matthew 7:15]

wolf_sheep

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