Charles Laughton

T. it.: “La morte corre sul fiume”; Scen.: James Agee, Charles Laughton (non accr.), dal racconto omonimo di Davis Grubb; F.: Stanley Cortez; M.: Robert Golden; Scgf.: Hilyard Brown; Arredatore: Al Spencer; Trucco: Don L. Cash; Mu.: Walter Schumann; Su.: Stanford Naughton; Ass. R.: Milton Carter, Jack Sonntag (non accr.); Int.: Robert Mitchum (Harry Powell), Shelley Winters (Willa Harper), Lillian Gish (Rachel Cooper), Peter Graves (Ben Harper), Billy Chapin (John Harper), Sally Jane Bruce (Pearl Harper), Evelyn Varden (Icey Spoon), Don Beddoe (Walt Spoon), James Gleason (Oncle Birdie), Gloria Castillo (Ruby); Prod.: Paul Gregory Productions / United Artists; 35mm. D.: 93’ a 24 f/s. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

It was the great metaphor of the world “seen by a child” that allowed Laughton to introduce Brechtian elements into the scenography. Like the main character and several secondary characters, the world of the film – which denounces itself as an illusion – is Brechtian in a political way. The films exposes a world founded on false values, in which Preacher incarnates the eternal alliance between American fascism and puritan hysteria, known at that time as McCarthyism. Watching The Night of the Hunter today, in light of the documentary (and preferably in Bob Gitt’s restored version), allows for the rediscovery of a film in which the editing, controlled entirely by the director, was absolutely not intended to produce naturalistic or psychological effects. Norman Mailer, who sold the rights to his novel The Naked and the Dead (later made by Raoul Walsh) to Laughton’s producer Paul Gregory, stated upon leaving a screening of The Night of the Hunter, that Laughton “did not understand editing and was incapable of making use of it”. Instead, through the actors, Laughton’s work produces signifying gestures which the editing links in a continuity that is intended to be read. All the misunderstandings that surround this experimental film (which “truly experiments”, as Truffaut said) still today, stem from this.

Bill Krohn, in “Cahiers du cinéma”, n. 578, 2003

Copy From

Restored by
Restored by

Restored in 2001 by UCLA Film and Television Archive in cooperation with MGM Studios from the original 35mm acetate picture negative, a 35mm acetate combined master positive, a 35mm acetate print, and the original 35mm magnetic soundtracks. Laboratory services by Cinetech. Sound services by Audio Mechanics and DJ Audio. Restoration funded by The Film Foundation and Robert B. Sturm