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"Night of the Hunter" 1955


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One of my favorite movies of all time. I thought Robert Mitchum and Jillian Gish were brilliant.  I have trouble figuring out what genre this movie would fall in. I don't think it would qualify as horror although it might. I know Charles Laughton was very nervous directing this movie because it was his first, and when the critics got through with it , it was his last. What a waste. I wish he could have lived to see it voted the second best movie ever made after Citizen Kane. Something very creepy about Mitchum hunting for those kids singing "In the Everlasting Arms." Pure genius.

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47 minutes ago, Syntax said:

One of my favorite movies of all time. I thought Robert Mitchum and Jillian Gish were brilliant.  I have trouble figuring out what genre this movie would fall in. I don't think it would qualify as horror although it might. I know Charles Laughton was very nervous directing this movie because it was his first, and when the critics got through with it , it was his last. What a waste. I wish he could have lived to see it voted the second best movie ever made after Citizen Kane. Something very creepy about Mitchum hunting for those kids singing "In the Everlasting Arms." Pure genius.

Some say horror, some say noir,  some say just a drama.     I say,  it doesn't really matter.  This is a first rate film especially the first 3\4.

 

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I agree with James.  I've always just thought of the movie as an exceptional drama.  And Mitchum was never better.  I really wish that both he and Lilian Gish had been nominated for Oscars.  They both really deserved a nomination.  And the photography is great.

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More on the Night of the Hunter and the cinematographer: 

The director of photography was Stanley Cortez, who also shot Orson Welles' 1942 film The Magnificent Ambersons. Because Laughton had very little experience working with film, Cortez would visit his house to explain various concepts of camera lenses, camera heights, and what effect each of them gave.[42] Laughton told Cortez that the nitrate prints of the silent movies that he had been watching for research impressed them with how sharp they looked, so he asked Cortez to create that same sharpness for The Night of the Hunter.[43] The studio brought most of the crew from a recent film Black Tuesday because they had worked so well together, and Cortez had experimented with a new black-and-white film Kodak Tri-X on that production, with great results. He chose to shoot certain scenes of this film on Tri-X because it had a sharp contrast that would help fulfill Laughton's vision.[4

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  • 5 months later...

Hmmm, I wouldn't categorize The Night of the Hunter as an Adventure/Action film. I've seen it classified as Film Noir and as a Horror Film. Me, I call it a Thriller. But perhaps, Charles Laughton's directorial debut and swan song defies simple classification.

What The Night of the Hunter is, IMO, is a case of a filmmaker being waaaaaayyyyy ahead of American movie audiences and some film critics.

Delightfully abundant with arresting and unforgettable images and scenes, the vignette in which murderous Harry Powell, chasing his young prey up the stairs from the basement of Hell -- arms outstretched like Frankenstein's Monster -- is a particular favorite of mine.

A movie that should never be remade (the 1991 TV rendition was pointless) because perfection cannot be improved upon -- as far as I'm concerned.

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2 hours ago, Eucalpytus P. Millstone said:

Hmmm, I wouldn't categorize The Night of the Hunter as an Adventure/Action film. I've seen it classified as Film Noir and as a Horror Film. Me, I call it a Thriller. But perhaps, Charles Laughton's directorial debut and swan song defies simple classification.

What The Night of the Hunter is, IMO, is a case of a filmmaker being waaaaaayyyyy ahead of American movie audiences and some film critics.

Delightfully abundant with arresting and unforgettable images and scenes, the vignette in which murderous Harry Powell, chasing his young prey up the stairs from the basement of Hell -- arms outstretched like Frankenstein's Monster -- is a particular favorite of mine.

A movie that should never be remade (the 1991 TV rendition was pointless) because perfection cannot be improved upon -- as far as I'm concerned.

Making another adaptation of a work of art (film,  song,   play),   isn't about improving upon prior-versions but instead about those involved expressing their artistic ability.   

Such efforts are not pointless from the POV of the artist.

 

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10 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Making another adaptation of a work of art (film,  song,  play),   isn't about improving upon prior-versions but instead about those involved expressing their artistic ability.   

Such efforts are not pointless from the POV of the artist.

 

I disagree with your opinion.

Making another adaptation of a film, song, play is not entirely about "those involved expressing their artistic ability."

We are specifically concerned with The Night of the Hunter --  a Hollywood movie. IMO, there are several reasons for adapting a story or remaking a movie multiple times:

  • The first adaptation was a failure or regarded as a failure (cf. the first two versions of The Maltese Falcon).
     
  • The evolution of motion picture technology (e.g., The Wizard of Oz, Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
     
  • Thar'$ gold in them thar hill$; i.e., habitually mining a tried and true, proven commodity (see Dracula, The Hound of the BaskervillesLittle Women).
     
  • Hollywood's hidebound mindset, creative myopia, and apathy re cultivating originality.

I've never read Davis Grubb's novel, so I don't know if Laughton's interpretation was a faithful adaptation and whether Grubb approved or disapproved of the movie (and faithfulness to the source material and author approval are of little concern to Hollywood producers and studios). For me, Laughton's treatment nailed it. The '91 TV remake was superfluous and inferior.

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10 hours ago, Eucalpytus P. Millstone said:

I disagree with your opinion.

Making another adaptation of a film, song, play is not entirely about "those involved expressing their artistic ability."

We are specifically concerned with The Night of the Hunter --  a Hollywood movie. IMO, there are several reasons for adapting a story or remaking a movie multiple times:

  • The first adaptation was a failure or regarded as a failure (cf. the first two versions of The Maltese Falcon).
     
  • The evolution of motion picture technology (e.g., The Wizard of Oz, Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
     
  • Thar'$ gold in them thar hill$; i.e., habitually mining a tried and true, proven commodity (see Dracula, The Hound of the BaskervillesLittle Women).
     
  • Hollywood's hidebound mindset, creative myopia, and apathy re cultivating originality.

I've never read Davis Grubb's novel, so I don't know if Laughton's interpretation was a faithful adaptation and whether Grubb approved or disapproved of the movie (and faithfulness to the source material and author approval are of little concern to Hollywood producers and studios). For me, Laughton's treatment nailed it. The '91 TV remake was superfluous and inferior.

As for the point that making another adaptation of a film, song play is not "entirely" etc...     I didn't use the term "entirely" and never implied that.    Instead I just offered what I believe to be a primary reason for making another adaptation from the POV of the creators of said arts.     You list many other reasons and I agree with those so I don't see where we disagree.

As for Night of the Hunter,  which is one of my favorite films,   Laughton indeed nailed it,   but I don't see how that relates to what I posted.     Instead I see it as making my point;  I.e. there are other directors in this world that would like to take the fine source material and see if they can make a version that expresses their view of said source material.

"My POV here isn't on this one film but instead your comment of:     A movie that should never be remade (the 1991 TV rendition was pointless) because perfection cannot be improved upon"

I guess I read this comment by you too narrowly;   as in:  a movie should never be remade unless it can be improved upon.     

As for those other reasons:  There is a lot of discussion at this forum as for the best reasons to make a new adaptation of a film:  

I really Like your first bullet point and in that vein,  for me the best reasons would be solid source material but prior versions didn't do the source material justice;  the two prior The Maltese Falcon are a great example of these reasons.      Huston "nailed it" by writing a screenplay that was very faithful to be book.        

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I

42 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

. . . I.e. there are other directors in this world that would like to take the fine source material and see if they can make a version that expresses their view of said source material.

"My POV here isn't on this one film but instead your comment of:  A movie that should never be remade (the 1991 TV rendition was pointless) because perfection cannot be improved upon"

I guess I read this comment by you too narrowly;   as in:  a movie should never be remade unless it can be improved upon.     

 

 

No, you read my comment exactly right. I don't think that a movie should be remade unless it can be improved upon.

Thanks for clarifying your point, which I better understand.

My rebuttal is, I don't see the point of a filmmaker wanting to express his/her interpretation of a (IMO) perfect movie -- a "classic," if I may.

Regarding other creative forms (songs, plays, and I'll add novels, short stories, poetry, and musical compositions such as symphonies and operas), I'm inclined to be a tad more tolerant. But, if an upstart wants to rewrite A Tale of Two Cities, The Killers, The Raven, or recompose Beethoven's Fifth or La Bohème to express their individual P.O.V. or style . . .

. . . 'twould be an exercise in hubristic folly . . . IMO.

Movie-making, OTOH, is a collaborative and extremely costly enterprise. If a filmmaker wants to remake a "classic" or adapt material for the umpteenth time, he/she would have to come up with a significantly better reason (to me, were I a potential investor or producer) than "Here's my take on . . . !"
 

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