For on reason or another, I never got to take part in this fantastic series at The Film Experience, even though I had seen most of the films discussed. The season finale seemed like the last chance to finally participate, but that meant I had to watch Charles Laughton’s sole directorial effort The Night of the Hunter for the first time.
The film tells the story of two kids, John and Pearl Harper, whose father is executed on charges of murder but leaves a large sum of money left behind, hiding it before his arrest and only telling the kids of its place. When Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) spends a night with Harper in jail before his execution, he finds out about the money. Once out of jail, and posing as a man of god, he marries the widow of Harper (Shelley Winters) hoping to obtain the money, but things go awry.
Six shots I like for their sheer beauty.
Nathaniel’s choice is obviously an informed one. The film is one of the best shot films I’ve ever seen and there’s an abundance of shots to choose from which makes it easier and harder for me at the same time. You can’t watch this film and not notice the amazing work Stanley Cortez has done with shadows. He manages to create intensity, eeriness and tranquility, define characters and set moods all with his noir-like lighting. (Although, if this were a review of the film, I’d definitely have to mention how helpful the music and the sound work are.)
In the end, I narrowed my favourites down to these:
The house! Because every time there’s a long shot of the house, it promises something unexpected, important or just scary happening. The same shot of the Harpers’ house repeats several times during the film and then, a couple of times , there's a shot of Cooper's house; but each time it got me excited to see what was next.
Double creepy shot of Powell. Because of the great villain he is and the great performance by Mitchum.
Because very early on, this shot summarizes the film. John is rendered black in a silhouette, as if he is in hiding, and Powell, sneaks up on him, as he chases him during the whole film.