*This post is part of Nathaniel’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” Series.
Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter 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 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.
The is a majestically photographed film and there’s an abundance of shots to choose from. Stanley Cortez's work with shadows is simply unimprovable. He manages to create intensity, eeriness and tranquility, define characters and set moods all with his noir-esque lighting.
My favourites can be narrowed down to these:
That house! Because every time there’s a long shot of the house, it promises something unexpected, important or scary happening. The same shot of the Harpers’ house is repeated several times during the film and then there's a shot of Cooper's house; but each time it got me excited to see what was next.
Two creepy shots of Robert Mitchum.
Because very early on, this shot summarizes the essence of 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.