93 minutes| U.S.A.| 1955| Black & White

Charles Laughton’s celluloid fever dream stands amongst the greatest one-offs in cinema history – its resounding critical and financial failure ensured that renowned thespian Laughton’s first movie as director would also be his last. History has given The Night of the Hunter its due: this heady slice of chilling southern gothic, propelled by an incandescent performance from the late, great Robert Mitchum, continues to cast a tall shadow on cinema. Sleepy Bob was never better than as the Reverend Harry Powell, a psychotic preacher who will stop at nothing, and we mean nothing, to find a stash of hidden loot, the location of which lies with the two young children of the recently executed thief. Deeply influenced by German expressionism, this monochromatic masterpiece has been cited as an influence by everyone from Terrence Malick and Harmony Korine to – fact! – the Father Ted Christmas Special. Bottom line: once seen, never forgotten, The Night of the Hunter will haunt you forever.

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