The Night of the Hunter

  • 12
  • Charles Laughton (1955)
  • US
  • 88 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
5 out of 5

This thriller is one of the great masterpieces of American cinema, a movie so strangely repellent, so poetic and so utterly hypnotic that it sadly never found an audience. Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, it was Charles Laughton's only film as director, and it features Robert Mitchum's finest screen performance as a bogus priest and psychopath who has "love" and "hate" tattooed on his knuckles. Serving time in jail, Mitchum learns about a bank robbery from a condemned man, and on his release he relentlessly pursues the man's children whom he believes can lead him to a cache of stolen money. Mitchum's always imposing, menacing presence is heightened by Laughton to an extraordinary degree, and their stunning collaboration is enhanced by Lillian Gish's portrayal of a gun-toting spinster. Set during the Depression in a rural backwater where the riverbanks are alive with croaking frogs, it's a fairy tale turned into a dark night of the soul.

Plot Summary

Classic thriller starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. Before being arrested for murder, Ben Harper tells his two children where he has hidden a large sum of stolen money. They soon find themselves terrorised by Ben's ex-cell mate Harry Powell, a psychopathic preacher with "love" and "hate" tattooed on his hands.

Cast and crew


Preacher Harry Powell
Robert Mitchum
Willa Harper
Shelley Winters
Lillian Gish
Icey Spoon
Evelyn Varden
Ben Harper
Peter Graves (2)
Billy Chapin
Sally Jane Bruce
James Gleason
Walt Spoon
Don Beddoe
Gloria Castillo
Mary Ellen Clemons
Cheryl Callaway


Charles Laughton

Other Information

Black and White
Contains violence.
Available on video, DVD and BluRay
Released 17 Jan 2014
Certificate 12