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lokust's reviews view profile

Good but not so much as Cape Fear  
on January 12, 2007 - 10:46 AM PST
  of The Night of the Hunter (Criterion) (1955)
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful

Great to finally see this movie after hearing about it for years. It's not quite as good as its reputation, but this is down mainly to Mitchum's ability to outshine everyone else in the movie.

Laughton does a good job of suggesting a connection between misogyny, (Southern) religious radicalism and violence-- the film starts with Mitchum as the crazed preacher at a strip show, fascinated and repulsed at the same time. Later, in a scene that is quite ahead of its time for the 50's, he condemns his new wife's desire to be slept with on their wedding night and equates sex with sin. Mitchum's Preacher is accepted with open arms by the conservative town he's moved into all while his new wife has obviously been brainwashed into a religious frenzy so thoroughly that she can't see the terror he is inflicting on her son.

It's actually pretty hard to believe that 50's audiences could swallow this movie as it hints at child molestation (like Cape Fear, another Mitchum-fueled movie) so obviously; also the young boys who hang out near the drugstore in the 30's South were quite a surprise, paying their lewd attention to the girls passing by.

Despite some above average acting from the child actors and a wonderful performance by Mitchum, it remains his show for the most part, whereas Cape Fear is a bit more rounded and definitely the better movie overall.

The version I got from Greencine was also unfortunately a pan-and-scan version; surely there's a widescreen lurking out there somewhere?

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