Charles Laughton

The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter—incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed—is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic—also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish and writer James Agee—is cinema’s most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil.


The Night of the Hunter was restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc., with funding provided by Robert Sturm and The Film Foundation.

Film Info

  • Charles Laughton
  • United States
  • 1955
  • 93 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.66:1
  • English
  • Spine #541

Special Features

  • New digital transfer made from 35 mm film elements restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with MGM Studios, with funding provided by the Film Foundation and Robert Sturm, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring second-unit director Terry Sanders, film critic F. X. Feeney, archivist Robert Gitt, and author Preston Neal Jones
  • Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter,” a two-and-a-half-hour treasure trove of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage
  • New documentary featuring interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Feeney, Jones, and author Jeffrey Couchman
  • New video interview with Laughton biographer Simon Callow
  • Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show in which cast members perform a scene deleted from the film
  • Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film
  • Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
  • Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb, author of the source novel
  • New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow

New cover by Eric Skillman

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New digital transfer made from 35 mm film elements restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with MGM Studios, with funding provided by the Film Foundation and Robert Sturm, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring second-unit director Terry Sanders, film critic F. X. Feeney, archivist Robert Gitt, and author Preston Neal Jones
  • Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter,” a two-and-a-half-hour treasure trove of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage
  • New documentary featuring interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Feeney, Jones, and author Jeffrey Couchman
  • New video interview with Laughton biographer Simon Callow
  • Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show in which cast members perform a scene deleted from the film
  • Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film
  • Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
  • Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb, author of the source novel
  • New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow

New cover by Eric Skillman

The Night of the Hunter
Cast
Robert Mitchum
Preacher Harry Powell
Shelley Winters
Willa Harper
Lillian Gish
Miss Cooper
James Gleason
Uncle Birdie Steptoe
Evelyn Varden
Icey Spoon
Peter Graves
Ben Harper
Don Beddoe
Mr. Spoon
Billy Chapin
John Harper
Sally Jane Bruce
Pearl Harper
Gloria Castillo
Ruby
Credits
Director
Charles Laughton
From the novel by
Davis Grubb
Screenplay
James Agee
Music
Walter Schumann
Photography
Stanley Cortez
Art direction
Hilyard Brown
Editing
Robert Golden

From The Current

The Night of the Hunter: Holy Terror
The Night of the Hunter: Holy Terror
The Night of the Hunter (1955)—the first film directed by Charles Laughton and also, sadly, the last—is among the greatest horror movies ever made, and perhaps, of that select company, the most irreducibly American in spirit. It’s about thos…

By Terrence Rafferty

Guillermo del Toro Plunges into the Gothic Horror of The Night of the Hunter
Guillermo del Toro Plunges into the Gothic Horror of The Night of the Hunter

In this video, the Oscar-winning director of The Shape of Water explains how the mix of terror and lyricism in Charles Laughton’s masterpiece went on to influence his own style.

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Pat Healy’s Top 10
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Francine Prose on the Loaded Imagery of The Night of the Hunter
Francine Prose on the Loaded Imagery of The Night of the Hunter
The Moviegoer, a biweekly online column published by the Library of America, has been a locus of terrific writing about classic literature-inspired films since it launched in February. Curated by film critic Michael Sragow, the column features a rost…
Kim Newman’s Top 10