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Night of the Hunter


Toto
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Just watched one of my favorite films "Night of the Hunter" (1955) starring Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Shelly Winters and the young actors Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce and amazingly, the only film directed by actor Charles Laughton.  This suspenseful, horror-type film has a theme of a battle between good vs. evil.  Mitchum's performance is so powerful.  He becomes an animal-like beast and makes a inhuman animalistic sound when cornered.  His using the Bible to further his own evil interests is really chilling.  The way it is filmed is very expressionistic with strong visual storytelling.  There seems to be many references to Biblical stories and teachings.  It's not hard to see that the children's trip on the river is comparable to the journey of Moses as a baby on a river.  Can you identify other parts with religious symbolism/meaning?  What parts of the film did you like?

 

image.jpeg.7f3981d78e3d7ab9cabe9315b8813b3c.jpeg     image.jpeg.b6b34d12b85af39ddd80939a296b9282.jpeg     The Night of the Hunter (1955) - IMDb

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Toto, thanks for that wonderful write-up of Night of the Hunter.  I agree with everything you  said about it, and it's also one of my very favourite films.

The best scene  ( in a film full of great scenes) for me is the one where the children take flight, running to the little boat and setting forth along the river. What beautiful cinematography, and the images of the creatures,  it's so mysterious and dream-like.

The Robert Mitchum character is so twisted, a truly frightening figure.  The sick messed-up ideas he has about sex and God and violence, he seems to be one of those psychos who cannot separate sexual feelings from a conviction of sin and "God's will", which in his very sick mind appears to be to kill women, at least those to whom he feels any attraction.  

Poor Shelley Winters !  She is such a sad character.  The image of her murdered body, gently wafting under the water, her hair floating in the current, is both disturbing and yet somehow beautiful.  

Altogether Night of the Hunter is one of the most poetic and dream-like films of its era.

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

I found this beautifully written commentary on Night of the Hunter,  it's very insightful and informative.

https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1657-the-night-of-the-hunter-holy-terror

Thanks for posting this great essay about "Night of the Hunter".  I read that this film influenced many later directors including David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman and Spike Lee.  Strangely, it was not received well when it was released in the 1950's and this is why Laughton didn't direct again.  But later on, it has received great recognition.  From Wikipedia:

Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1992, it is now considered one of the greatest films of all time.[4][5] The influential French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma selected The Night of the Hunter in 2008 as the second-best film of all time, behind Citizen Kane.[6]

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Wow!  Where to begin with this one?!  Others have commented so far about the Mitchum character; and as a true force of wickedness and evil, hardly anyone comes close to topping his performance.

I'd like to say word or two about the other side of the story, though.  Toto has asked for religious references concerning the story, and I'll just give a broad nod to the "Beware false prophets" that pops up from time to time.  Because it is in this frame that the story unfolds for me.  What is chilling and sinister in this movie is the absence on the part of the adults of discernment about the true nature of Harry Powell.  

Let's run-down a few things.  The children's father -- who is the traditional protector of the family -- is a criminal on the lam, and only succeeds in placing them in harm's way.  When Powell comes along, the mother accepts his offer of marriage -- in part because her friends have convinced her that the children need a father.  That, of course, ends badly.  And then, there is poor James Gleason. -- one of my favorite character actors.  He recognizes the evil in Harry, yet his is a broken soul when it comes time to protect the children.  He fails.

So finally we get to Lilian Gish in whose hands the same words found in Harry Powell's Bible now become Life, and Hope, and Protection.  It is a very Christian attitude toward faith that we are  encouraged to remember ourselves as children, for children have an uncorrupted view of the world --the tauntings of the schoolmates notwithstanding.  Part of the childlike attitude is to cleave to the love of parents who are familially bound to protect those who are weak and vulnerable.  

Lilian Gish is attentive to the nature of the children she takes in, and thus can receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit that work toward the abundance in life that we all are created to partake therein.  (You asked for religious stuff, didn't you?).   "By their fruits you shall know them" we hear, and the fruits of the "angelic" Gish are the redeemed lives of children once lost in the world.  And in the end, this goodness, and courage, and faith are set in their proper place so that the children may abide.  And we pray that they abide in good paths always with someone to watch over them as they grow to be adults.  Then they, too, will have the charge of protecting the weak and innocent that has been taught them from Lilian Gish's home where the Rock of Ages clefts for them.  

Be not afraid; there is always Hope.   

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23 hours ago, Toto said:

ne of my favorite films "Night of the Hunter" (1955)

One of my favorites as well. It reminds me of a Grimm's fairy tale come to life. The two children are Hansel and Gretel, Robert Mitchum The Big Bad Wolf and they are saved by Mother Goose (Lillian Gish). One of my favorite scenes is  the one where Gish is guarding the house with her gun while Mitchum sits in the  yard singing a hymn. She joins him in the song then one of her children enters with a candle and when the candle is blown out, Mitchum has disappeared.

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21 hours ago, brianNH said:

Wow!  Where to begin with this one?!  Others have commented so far about the Mitchum character; and as a true force of wickedness and evil, hardly anyone comes close to topping his performance.

I'd like to say word or two about the other side of the story, though.  Toto has asked for religious references concerning the story, and I'll just give a broad nod to the "Beware false prophets" that pops up from time to time.  Because it is in this frame that the story unfolds for me.  What is chilling and sinister in this movie is the absence on the part of the adults of discernment about the true nature of Harry Powell.  

Thank you for your beautiful description of the religious references in the film.  I also thought about "Beware of False Prophets".  I was curious so I looked this up and found so many references to this in the Bible.  The animals and nature made  me think about The Garden of Eden.  I found a review of the film by Roger Ebert which discussed how a central theme is really the hypocrisy in the church as an institution.  Below is a quote from Ebert's review.  https://www.rogerebert.com/features/everlasting-arms-the-sustained-power-of-the-night-of-the-hunter

Laughton was originally drawn to make “The Night of the Hunter” because of its themes of religious hypocrisy. According to biographer Simon Callow, the gay Laughton believed the church was responsible for him spending most of his life in the closet. In Powell, those repressive attitudes manifest in the way he manipulates his faith to benefit his own agenda, and a fear of sexuality that presents as an obsession with purity. He represents the literal harm that the church as an institution has historically caused vulnerable populations like the LGBTQ+ community, refugees and people of color.

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2 hours ago, Toto said:

Thank you for your beautiful description of the religious references in the film.  I also thought about "Beware of False Prophets".  I was curious so I looked this up and found so many references to this in the Bible.  The animals and nature made  me think about The Garden of Eden.  I found a review of the film by Roger Ebert which discussed how a central theme is really the hypocrisy in the church as an institution.  Below is a quote from Ebert's review.  https://www.rogerebert.com/features/everlasting-arms-the-sustained-power-of-the-night-of-the-hunter

Laughton was originally drawn to make “The Night of the Hunter” because of its themes of religious hypocrisy. According to biographer Simon Callow, the gay Laughton believed the church was responsible for him spending most of his life in the closet. In Powell, those repressive attitudes manifest in the way he manipulates his faith to benefit his own agenda, and a fear of sexuality that presents as an obsession with purity. He represents the literal harm that the church as an institution has historically caused vulnerable populations like the LGBTQ+ community, refugees and people of color.

Just to be clear, this review was written in 2020 by Abby Olcese, who often writes about how religion impacts society.  She continues in her review to compare the two depictions of Christians in the film to today's apparently bipolar Christian community:

I first watched “The Night of the Hunter” in 2012, while working as an intern for a college ministry in Lawrence, Kansas. At the time, I was struck by its dual portrayals of faith, which shared recognizable traits with Christians I knew. I witnessed Rachel in the people I saw at church every Sunday: the university lecturer who taught Sunday school to five-year-olds, the lesbian couple who hosted youth group weenie roasts at their farm, or the parishioner who found volunteers to make dinner for our college ministry’s weekly Bible studies.

Harry, however, appeared in far more troubling places. It’s easy to recognize him in any leader who teaches selfishness, hatred, and repression while claiming to have spiritual authority to do so. Harry is present in Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel and Jerry Falwell Jr.’s racist rants and close association with Donald Trump and right-wing provocateurs like Charlie Kirk and Nigel Farage—not to mention his personal scandals. He’s there in Mike Pence’s evangelical culture warrior status, asking believers to pray for the country while supporting racist, sexist, xenophobic policies. In June, when Donald Trump had police kick Black Lives Matter demonstrators off the lawn of St. John’s Episcopal Church so he could pose with a Bible for photos, I saw Harry standing in the background.

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I fully appreciate the enthusiasm that many feel for Charles Laughton's sole directorial effort, and a challenging film to categorize. Is it horror? Is it noir? Is it a dark fairy tale? Is it a combination of these?

I tend to think of it as a dark fairy tale, complete with Big Bad Wolf and Mother Goose figures.

Brilliant as the film is in many respects, Laughton's achievement would not be nearly what it turned out to be without the assistance the neophyte director received from cinematographer Stanley Cortez. Keep in mind that Laughton's vision is really in collaboration with what could be seen through Cortez's camera. In fact, I often wonder how much of what we see is entirely because of Cortez.

Not to be a spoil sport in this thread's celebration of a great film, but I have to say that I have always been disappointed with the film's final twenty to twenty five minutes. Yes, there are still some striking visual imagery but when the story's emphasis turns from the children's flight from the Big Bad Wolf to the nurturing, protective Mother Goose figure, for me the pulsating drive of the film slackens and, to a significant degree, so does much of my interest (particularly on repeat viewings).

The Night of the Hunter (1955) - IMDb

As a minor note the character of Pearl all but disappears from the film as the emphasis is upon John and the widow, with the wolf primarily lurking in the background. But let's face it, evil is more interesting than good and when people discuss this film I suspect that it is primarily the first hour that will get most of their attention. I know there has been some discussion of this film laughing at evil, as Preacher Harry Powell screams and runs like a chicken with his head off to hide in a barn after being confronted by the gun in the widow's hand.

Later he emerges from the barn to meekly acquiesce to law authorities who take him away and we never, except for one brief shot when he is in a car, see him again. Sorry, but I have always found this a limp, dissatisfying conclusion to the film, as well as less than dramatic resolution for one of the most memorable psychopathic characters of the movies (for my money, Robert Mitchum's most memorable performance). Perhaps the film's screenplay is merely being faithful to Davis Grubb's novel (which I read decades ago but can't recall).

But, even if that is the case, it still doesn't help in my perception that The Night of the Hunter is definitely a flawed masterpiece. Lillian Gish is wonderful in her role, wise, compassionate and strong, but her character occupies too much of the final act of this film for my interest to be maintained as it had been during the film's riveting first hour. It's the Big Bad Wolf, as seen through Laughton's directorial vision and the stunning cinematography of Cortez, that largely makes this a memorable film. One more plus, the at times frightening chords of Walter Schumann's musical accompaniment.

Thank you, Stanley Cortez for the following shots, among so many others . . .

Night of the Hunter (1955) | Benbrigade's Blog

Walter Schumann – Once Upon a Time There Was a Pretty Fly (from Night of  the Hunter) — Song Bar

The Night of the Hunter (1955). Reviewed by Devin Meenan | Film Matters  Magazine

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35 minutes ago, TomJH said:

I fully appreciate the enthusiasm that many feel for Charles Laughton's sole directorial effort, and a challenging film to categorize. Is it horror? Is it noir? Is it a dark fairy tale? Is it a combination of these?

I tend to think of it as a dark fairy tale, complete with Big Bad Wolf and Mother Goose figures.

Brilliant as the film is in many respects, Laughton's achievement would not be nearly what it turned out to be without the assistance the neophyte director received from cinematographer Stanley Cortez. Keep in mind that Laughton's vision is really in collaboration with what could be seen through Cortez's camera. In fact, I often wonder how much of what we see is entirely because of Cortez.

Not to be a spoil sport in this thread's celebration of a great film, but I have to say that I have always been disappointed with the film's final twenty to twenty five minutes. Yes, there are still some striking visual effects but when the story's emphasis turns from the children's flight from the Big Bad Wolf to the nurturing, protective Mother Goose figure, for me the pulsating drive of the film slackens and, to a significant degree, so does much of my interest (particularly on repeat viewings).

The Night of the Hunter (1955) - IMDb

As a minor note the character of Pearl all but disappears from the film as the emphasis is upon John and the widow, with the wolf primarily lurking in the background. But let's face it, evil is more interesting than good and when people discuss this film I suspect that it is primarily the first hour that will get most of their attention. I know there has been some discussion of this film laughing at evil, as Preacher Harry Powell screams and runs like a chicken with his head off to hide in a barn after being confronted by the gun in the widow's hand.

Later he emerges from the barn to meekly acquiesce to law authorities who take him away and we never, except for one brief shot when he is in a car, see him again. Sorry, but I have always found this a limp, dissatisfying conclusion to the film, as well as less than dramatic resolution for one of the most memorable psychopathic characters of the movies (for my money, Robert Mitchum's most memorable performance). Perhaps the film's screenplay is merely being faithful to Davis Grubb's novel (which I read decades ago but can't recall).

But, even if that is the case, it still doesn't help in my perception that The Night of the Hunter is definitely a flawed masterpiece. Lillian Gish is wonderful in her role, wise, compassionate and strong, but her character occupies too much of the final act of this film for my interest to be maintained as it had been during the film's riveting first hour. It's the Big Bad Wolf, as seen through Laughton's directorial vision and the stunning cinematography of Cortez, that largely makes this a memorable film. One more plus, the at times frightening cords of Walter Schumann's musical accompaniment.

Thank you, Stanley Cortez for the following shots, among so many others . . .

Night of the Hunter (1955) | Benbrigade's Blog

Walter Schumann – Once Upon a Time There Was a Pretty Fly (from Night of  the Hunter) — Song Bar

The Night of the Hunter (1955). Reviewed by Devin Meenan | Film Matters  Magazine

Yes - the cinematography by Stanley Cortez is amazing and deserves a lot of credit for this film.  Film is an art form which every viewer has a different reaction to.  I liked the end to this film.  As you pointed out, this story was like a fairy tale and it felt like the end of a fairy tale.  That's just me.  I can see how you might not feel the same way about the ending and that's fine.

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10 minutes ago, Toto said:

Yes - the cinematography by Stanley Cortez is amazing and deserves a lot of credit for this film.  Film is an art form which every viewer has a different reaction to.  I liked the end to this film.  As you pointed out, this story was like a fairy tale and it felt like the end of a fairy tale.  That's just me.  I can see how you might feel the same way about the ending and that's fine.

For my first few viewings I accepted the ending and never questioned that this was a great film. As time went on, however, I started to come to terms with a general dissatisfaction I felt regarding the film's final chapter.

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Fascinating comments so far.  For me, I think there's a lot more gold to be mined from this, as I touched on some things in my earlier post.  It's certainly plausible to look at the film as exposing hypocrisy in the Church (though I think you can do it without repeating ill-discerned political observations).  Whether or not this was Laughton's viewpoint in making the film makes little difference, for I think that he and Cortez created something that can been seen in many different ways.

This is a film whose story examines how evil works in the world, for Harry Powell -- through his brutal actions he has caused the deaths of several people -- goes beyond the preacher as huckster or film-flam artist.  Our prayer to St. Michael the Archangel calls for protection against Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the earth seeking the ruin of souls.  That is the Mitchum character, one who seeks the ruin of souls.   We know him also as the Prince of Lies, and Harry works his way through peoples' lives by deceit and treachery.

So for me, the whole story is the journey of the two children through a world where evil seems to be all around.  And it's interesting to note that there are shots of bunnies, and frogs, and spiders, and such.  They seem out of place.  But they're there for a reason, I think.  So, too, the riverbank and the river itself.  This is the physical world of creation, and it is indifferent to the suffering of the children.  Not because it doesn't care, but because this part of creation has no soul.  It knows neither good nor evil; it just is.  Man, however, is created with a soul and with it the mind to discern good and evil, and a conscience which acts upon that discernment.

In my previous post, I talked about how the adults failed the children on their journey until they arrive at Lilian Gish's home.  Here I would like to make a case for this last chapter.  It may not really make a gripping movie conclusion, but it is necessary for the story to come to this point.  The children now have found a place where love and faith work in the way they were meant to.  Lilian Gish becomes our St. Michael -- in a way.  She is there to protect physically  the children, but she also is there to keep them spiritually safe.  This means she worries about the older girl going off to town to see boys.  And she gently but resolutely returns John to the right path when he begins to stray.  

Thus, in a world where evil exists and our physical surroundings are indifferent to our suffering, there still is respite from the storms.  This is what the fundamental teaching of Christ and the Church are all about.  

And a last word about the craziness of Harry in his last scenes.  Yes, we laugh at his antics and may feel cheated that we missed out on an awful fate for him.  But we have just spent some time watching a movie where so many people failed to discern the nature of evil in this man.  Maybe they will continue to do so.  Or maybe this will honestly be his end?   But for the time being, evil will continue to exist around us. 

OK, too much going on here, so I'll step back for a while.

Thanks, everybody.

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I never understood John's reaction in the scene in which Harry is being arrested outside of Rachel's barn: he is on the ground being handcuffed, and John suddenly yells"Noooo!" and runs to him and hits him with Pearl's money-filled doll. Then in court he won't point Harry out as his mother's murderer.  This always has confused me.

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On 5/14/2022 at 10:14 PM, brianNH said:

Wow!  Where to begin with this one?!  Others have commented so far about the Mitchum character; and as a true force of wickedness and evil, hardly anyone comes close to topping his performance.

I'd like to say word or two about the other side of the story, though.  Toto has asked for religious references concerning the story, and I'll just give a broad nod to the "Beware false prophets" that pops up from time to time.  Because it is in this frame that the story unfolds for me.  What is chilling and sinister in this movie is the absence on the part of the adults of discernment about the true nature of Harry Powell.  

Let's run-down a few things.  The children's father -- who is the traditional protector of the family -- is a criminal on the lam, and only succeeds in placing them in harm's way.  When Powell comes along, the mother accepts his offer of marriage -- in part because her friends have convinced her that the children need a father.  That, of course, ends badly.  And then, there is poor James Gleason. -- one of my favorite character actors.  He recognizes the evil in Harry, yet his is a broken soul when it comes time to protect the children.  He fails.

So finally we get to Lilian Gish in whose hands the same words found in Harry Powell's Bible now become Life, and Hope, and Protection.  It is a very Christian attitude toward faith that we are  encouraged to remember ourselves as children, for children have an uncorrupted view of the world --the tauntings of the schoolmates notwithstanding.  Part of the childlike attitude is to cleave to the love of parents who are familially bound to protect those who are weak and vulnerable.  

Lilian Gish is attentive to the nature of the children she takes in, and thus can receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit that work toward the abundance in life that we all are created to partake therein.  (You asked for religious stuff, didn't you?).   "By their fruits you shall know them" we hear, and the fruits of the "angelic" Gish are the redeemed lives of children once lost in the world.  And in the end, this goodness, and courage, and faith are set in their proper place so that the children may abide.  And we pray that they abide in good paths always with someone to watch over them as they grow to be adults.  Then they, too, will have the charge of protecting the weak and innocent that has been taught them from Lilian Gish's home where the Rock of Ages clefts for them.  

Be not afraid; there is always Hope.   

 

8 hours ago, brianNH said:

Fascinating comments so far.  For me, I think there's a lot more gold to be mined from this, as I touched on some things in my earlier post.  It's certainly plausible to look at the film as exposing hypocrisy in the Church (though I think you can do it without repeating ill-discerned political observations).  Whether or not this was Laughton's viewpoint in making the film makes little difference, for I think that he and Cortez created something that can been seen in many different ways.

This is a film whose story examines how evil works in the world, for Harry Powell -- through his brutal actions he has caused the deaths of several people -- goes beyond the preacher as huckster or film-flam artist.  Our prayer to St. Michael the Archangel calls for protection against Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the earth seeking the ruin of souls.  That is the Mitchum character, one who seeks the ruin of souls.   We know him also as the Prince of Lies, and Harry works his way through peoples' lives by deceit and treachery.

So for me, the whole story is the journey of the two children through a world where evil seems to be all around.  And it's interesting to note that there are shots of bunnies, and frogs, and spiders, and such.  They seem out of place.  But they're there for a reason, I think.  So, too, the riverbank and the river itself.  This is the physical world of creation, and it is indifferent to the suffering of the children.  Not because it doesn't care, but because this part of creation has no soul.  It knows neither good nor evil; it just is.  Man, however, is created with a soul and with it the mind to discern good and evil, and a conscience which acts upon that discernment.

In my previous post, I talked about how the adults failed the children on their journey until they arrive at Lilian Gish's home.  Here I would like to make a case for this last chapter.  It may not really make a gripping movie conclusion, but it is necessary for the story to come to this point.  The children now have found a place where love and faith work in the way they were meant to.  Lilian Gish becomes our St. Michael -- in a way.  She is there to protect physically  the children, but she also is there to keep them spiritually safe.  This means she worries about the older girl going off to town to see boys.  And she gently but resolutely returns John to the right path when he begins to stray.  

Thus, in a world where evil exists and our physical surroundings are indifferent to our suffering, there still is respite from the storms.  This is what the fundamental teaching of Christ and the Church are all about.  

And a last word about the craziness of Harry in his last scenes.  Yes, we laugh at his antics and may feel cheated that we missed out on an awful fate for him.  But we have just spent some time watching a movie where so many people failed to discern the nature of evil in this man.  Maybe they will continue to do so.  Or maybe this will honestly be his end?   But for the time being, evil will continue to exist around us. 

OK, too much going on here, so I'll step back for a while.

Thanks, everybody.

So Brian, after reading these two posts of yours here, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed and found quite insightful I might add, I got to wondering how long it took you to become a deacon at your new church and after your recent move to Oklahoma?

(...not long I'll bet, right?!)  ;)

LOL

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58 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

I never understood John's reaction in the scene in which Harry is being arrested outside of Rachel's barn: he is on the ground being handcuffed, and John suddenly yells"Noooo!" and runs to him and hits him with Pearl's money-filled doll. Then in court he won't point Harry out as his mother's murderer.  This always has confused me.

Chalk it up to the Oslo Syndrome, sagebrush. And which, yep, is kind'a like the Stockholm Syndrome.

The difference here being that the victim is being chased but is never caught and held against their will.

(...and if you believe this, AND in keeping with this whole Scandinavian theme here, I've got some land just north of Helsinki you might be interested in as well)  ;)

 

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Sorry to disappoint, Dargo.  Nope, no Deacon for me.  Just an old convert to Catholicism tryin' to do his best.

Seriously, though, in our former parish in New Hampshire, we had friends who started a movie night discussion during the covid stuff.  We would watch a movie and then comment on the specifically Catholic themes that we found.  To be sure, not every movie lends itself to this level of scrutiny and comes out a winner.  But what I did glean from most of our talks was that, particularly in the older films, there was a certain acknowledgement on the part of the movie-maker that the audience shared a broad common culture.  Not necessarily all that deep, but most people had some passing familiarity with a wider frame of reference than most people do today.  

So in several movies of the "Golden Age" the writers and directors could call upon certain themes and images that would not be totally alien to their audiences.  And whether or not the creators intended to make their movies explicitly with religious messages, their use of those themes and images invites a level of experience that is singularly picked up by part of the audience.  

I find it rather fun to look at all these old movies that I watched growing up but now am able to see things I hadn't ever dreamed were there.  And thanks to you guys on the TCM message board for putting up my ramblings! 

Thanks.

Brian

 

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On 5/15/2022 at 10:37 AM, Det Jim McLeod said:

One of my favorites as well. It reminds me of a Grimm's fairy tale come to life. The two children are Hansel and Gretel, Robert Mitchum The Big Bad Wolf and they are saved by Mother Goose (Lillian Gish). One of my favorite scenes is  the one where Gish is guarding the house with her gun while Mitchum sits in the  yard singing a hymn. She joins him in the song then one of her children enters with a candle and when the candle is blown out, Mitchum has disappeared.

Some of these comments seem to take Mitchum's character for a religious man, because he can talk like a preacher. Maybe quote scripture. Well  so could Madalyn Murray O'Hair. And Satan.

He's just a con man. And a killer. A representation of darkness and evil. 

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34 minutes ago, LuckyDan said:

Some of these comments seem to take Mitchum's character for a religious man, because he can talk like a preacher. Maybe quote scripture. Well  so could Madalyn Murray O'Hair. And Satan.

He's just a con man. And a killer. A representation of darkness and evil. 

A religious man can also be a con man.     I would say that applies to about half of them.

 

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1 minute ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

A religious man can also be a con man.     I would say that applies to about half of them.

 

Fools and charlatans. Right.

My point is about Mitchum's character as a representation of a man of God at that time. Today most unchurched people would agree with you, but I'm not sure that was the intention of the character's creator or the interpretation of it's first audience.

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8 minutes ago, LuckyDan said:

Fools and charlatans. Right.

My point is about Mitchum's character as a representation of a man of God at that time. Today most unchurched people would agree with you, but I'm not sure that was the intention of the character's creator or the interpretation of it's first audience.

Today most religious people would agree with my POV here,  but of course they believe what I'm saying applies only to the folks of other religions.     

As for the Mitchum character;   He sure did fool the Evelyn Varden character,  who on-paper claimed to be a pious individual.      He was able to do this by representing a so call man of God.       

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1 hour ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

Today most religious people would agree with my POV here,  but of course they believe what I'm saying applies only to the folks of other religions.     

As for the Mitchum character;   He sure did fool the Evelyn Varden character,  who on-paper claimed to be a pious individual.      He was able to do this by representing a so call man of God.       

The novel's source material was a real murderer who preyed on lonely women. He emptied their bank accounts then murdered them, and in once case, her three children, without posing as a clergyman that I know of.

James Agee, who wrote the screenplay, had a lifelong friend and confidant who was an Episcopal priest. 

If anyone is watching Night of the Hunter and getting Joel Osteen vibes, they're bringing that with them.

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1 hour ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

claimed to be a pious individual

"...Lynch him... lynch him...!"  

EVELYN VARDEN also played Aunt Monica whom Rhoda the Bad Seed wants to push off the roof ... 

image.jpeg.7f3981d78e3d7ab9cabe9315b8813

Looks like the knave of a church...

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER was a bestselling book  NightOfTheHunter.JPG

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13 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

The novel's source material was a real murderer who preyed on lonely women. He emptied their bank accounts then murdered them, and in once case, her three children, without posing as a clergyman that I know of.

James Agee, who wrote the screenplay, had a lifelong friend and confidant who was an Episcopal priest. 

If anyone is watching Night of the Hunter and getting Joel Osteen vibes, they're bringing that with them.

Interesting;   How different was the Gish character in the film from the book?    I ask because I wonder why Agee changed the storyline;   E.g. to offset the Gish character with the Mitchum one?

 

 

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43 minutes ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

Interesting;   How different was the Gish character in the film from the book?    I ask because I wonder why Agee changed the storyline;   E.g. to offset the Gish character with the Mitchum one?

 

 

In the novel, Harry Powell (Mitchum's character) also misrepresented himself as a minister.  The murderer (Harry Powers) in the real life case on which the novel was based, did not.

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