Location: Los Angeles, California

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Night of the Hunter

Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter" (1955), which I watched for the first time yesterday night, is without a doubt one of the best American films ever made.

Here's a film that came out in the middle of the idyllic, Eisenhower 1950s, that concerns itself with a Christian preacher who engages in a series of despicable acts (which I will refrain from specifying) - and he does so all in the name of God.

Releasing such a film today would garner a swift backlash from the conservative Christian community. Of course, it really shouldn't. It's not that radical of an idea that something that is intended for good (i.e. Christianity and The Bible) can be misinterpreted to do evil.

Laughton's film shows both the appropriate and the condemnable ways one can interpret Scripture, and in a chillingly poetic scene, the two sides face off in a way that's so brilliant, I dare not spoil it.

In fact, I've already said too much regarding the plot. At least I can mention the style, in which the legendary cinematographer Stanley Cortez infuses shots of the sunny South with a brutal tinge of German Expressionism.

There are images to savor, a few of which are posted below. And of course, I'm leaving out the most famous image of all, but it's a spoiler... so you'll just have to dive in yourself.


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