Saturday, March 6, 2021

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER "Love/Hate" (1955)

This week's Saturday Night Special is called "The Night Of The Hunter," a film made in 1955, starring the always entertaining James Mitchum in a seriously creepy role as a serial killer posing as a preacher. Some call him a religious fanatic, but I see him as a predator, a con man, a phony, and a complete shyster, on top of being a murdering son of a bitch with no conscience, who preys on innocent and ignorant women and children! He's a real ladykiller all right!
"The Night Of The Hunter" is a dark, mean spirited, but beautifully filmed motion picture that was directed by screen legend Charles Laughton, and it's pretty damn obvious that a lot of thought was given to each and every shot!

The subject matter is a different story. The film opens with some kids finding a dead woman!

Cut to Robert Mitchum as insane killer Harry Powell. He claims to be a preacher, but I'd like to see his papers! Yeah, you guessed it, he was responsible for the death of that woman. Basically, the only friend Harry has, is his blade, kind of like "The Creep."
Cut to Dungeon Super Hero Peter Graves as Ben Harper. Ben is going down, and only his son knows where he stashed the money!  Peter Graves is the brother of "Gunsmoke's" James Arness, and besides "Mission: Impossible," "Killers From Space," "It Conquered The World," and "Beginning Of The End," Peter entertained me every Saturday morning for years as Jim Newton on "Fury."

Somehow Ben Harper ends up in the same cell as the freakazoid Harry Powell. Ben is going to be executed for his crimes, but before he does, he unintentionally and vaguely mentions the money he stole and where it might possibly be. 
Ben is put to death, and Harry is released and on the prowl, and it don't take much thought to figger out where he's headed!

Harry moves in on Ben Harper's wife and kids, and invariably, the females young and old fall for his phony ass routine!

Janis Joplin probably said it best, "Women is losers!"
Next thing you know, Preacher Harry, and Ben Harper's widder, are getting hitched, cause no woman wants to be lonely!

Ben Harper's ex-wife Willa is played by the always phenomenal Shelly Winters! Here she is on her wedding night, all ready to hop in the sack with the preacher.

But this is all he has to offer to her.....................He really is a bastard!

The preacher just keeps on waiting for the kids to slip up about where the money is hidden, but they're on to him! (I think, but sometimes you have to wonder)

Harry ends up slitting Willa's throat, and disposes her body in the river, so now he's the sole provider for the kids!

The kids escape Harry's clutches, and head on down the river. For me, this would have been as good a time as any to end this movie, but instead, the kids float down the river for a while, and they end up in what as might as well be, a new movie.

Harry kills some farmer and steals his horse to further pursue the children!

The children take refuge in this barn, but it doesn't take long before they realize that Harry is relentlessly pursuing them.

There's thirty minutes left, so they decided to start a whole new movie featuring these girls and the lady who is taking care of them. The two new kids fit right in.

It might have just been the drugs!
The kids end up at the home of Rachel Cooper, a very protective woman who takes in needy children. Rachel Cooper was played by the delightful Lillian Gish, who had been acting since freakin' 1912. Spunky Lillian passed away in 1993 at the age of 99.

Rachel gives Pastor Harry a good taste of fire and brimstone!

And then, the next thing you know, it's Christmas!
As the Reverend Tom Frost would say, Merry Bloody Christmas Everybody!!!
And once again, Gracias to Lord Litter in Germany for, among other things, reminding me I needed to watch this film!


Unknown said...

Damn. "Night of the Hunter" is one of the scariest movies (and most well-made) that I've ever seen, and though the original Mitchum film was made a good 40 years before the DeNiro remake, it's just as creepy. (As a guy who has a lot of relatives in the South, I have no problem whatsoever is ascribing Mitchum's character's sociopathy to fundamentalism gone off the rails -- I've seen it time and time again.)

Anonymous said...

"...ascribing Mitchum's character's sociopathy sociopathy to fundamentalism gone off the rails -- I've seen it time and time again..."

IMNSHO, fundamentalism *IS* off the rails. I've seen *that* time and time again, too!

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