The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Night of the Hunter (1955) — I’m somewhat torn in my head as to the creepiest character Robert Mitchum ever played. It’s between the wo obvious choices: Max Cady in Cape Fear or Harry Powell in this movie, The Night of the Hunter. I think I’m inclined to go with the latter. This movie could have easily been forgotten as far as 1950s suspense films go if not for the larger-than-life villain played by Mitchum, which his iconic “love” and “hate” tattoos. After sharing a cell with a bank robber who hid the money he stole, Powell heads to the man’s hometown to see if his family knows where he hid the money. (Nevermind that for some reason a bank robber on death row and a man serving 30 days for automobile theft are sharing a cell). The self-styled preacher used a mask of false piety to hide the fact that he’s a violent sociopath and the late bank robber’s son is the only one who sees through it. (Which is probably one reason I would have loved this movie when I was a kid.) The suspense builds from there. I do have the problem that the ending is a little “neat” as everything is resolved fairly quickly, but the movie is well worth checking out for fans of noir and suspense.

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