“The Night of the Hunter” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 18
“It’s a hard world for little things.”
This was quite an odd duck of a film.
It’s essentially a fairy tale – with a tragic loss and dastardly villain – told through the eyes of children.
It’s also a quasi-surrealist, German Expressionist-like art film disguised as a small-town, 1930s America period drama.
The film works mainly because of its antagonist – the supremely disturbing Reverend Harry Powell played with aplomb by Robert Mitchum.
I felt like the third act was slightly disjointed from the rest of the picture, and much like Notorious, I had some issue with how expeditious the romance between the preacher and Shelley Winters’s character Willa is. She’s a widow for seemingly less than a week and ready to jump into marriage? Maybe you’re just supposed to go with it for the sake of moving the story forward, but it just seems much too convenient.
Visually, it’s stunning, and the haunting musical passages during the film’s more quiet moments are quite arresting – as is Mitchum’s terrifying hymnal approach he uses as a warning throughout the film.
It was excellent, convoluted, beautiful, and hokey simultaneously. Perhaps that’s why it stands out?
The Night of the Hunter was at the time of this review at #6 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #46 among the best films of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
The Night of the Hunter vs. Night of the Creeps
NIGHT OF THE FIGHT! I do actually really enjoy and appreciate Night of the Creeps, but I recognize the artistry of Night of the Hunter as superior.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Desperado
I think I’m going to have to give it to Desperado. It’s action done right, and so much fun. Hayek and Banderas in their prime. Bloody and brilliant.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Mission: Impossible
A film that spawned a thousand parodies of its most famous scene of Cruise dangling from a wire – and for good reason. It’s a well-oiled machine of a movie. It wins over The Night of the Hunter.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Owning Mahowny
Philip Seymour Hoffman is the reason to watch Owning Mahowny. Mitchum is the reason to watch The Night of the Hunter. Of the two, Mitchum has the more dynamic and memorable performance.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Igby Goes Down
The cast of Igby is fantastic, and it’s a clever little comedy-drama, but The Night of the Hunter wins for its surrealist beauty.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Superman Returns
The Night of the Hunter is better than the very unusual Superman Returns for many reasons – but mostly because Kate Bosworth was an atrocious Lois Lane.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I appreciate the skill involved at pulling off the CG apes in the new Planet of the Apes films a lot, but they’re still not really that riveting in terms of story or characters to me. Night of the Hunter wins.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Minority Report
While it’s not my favorite Spielberg sci-fi, Minority Report is still very, very good. It’ll win the matchup.
The Night of the Hunter vs. Evil Dead II
Of all the Sam Raimi Evil Dead films, the second is the best for its humor, pace, and ability to induce scares and laughter harmoniously. It’ll beat out The Night of the Hunter.
The Night of the Hunter vs. The Book of Life
Animated films that aren’t Pixar have a lot to prove, and I think Reel FX Creative Studios really knocked it out of the park with The Book of Life. It’s incredibly artful – incorporating well-crafted characters and story to make for a wonderful treat of a film. It’ll win over The Night of the Hunter.
The Night of the Hunter is now ranked #537 out of 1406 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Next up are Dolls, Appaloosa, and Blue Ruin. In the meantime, check out the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.