“The Night of the Hunter”
Director: Charles Laughton
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, Peter Graves, Jane Bruce, and Billy Chapin
Cinematographer: Stanley Cortez
I’d like to start off with a quote by Stanley Cortez.
“When a motion picture which was originally photographed in black and white is then colorized, it is not the actor’s acting which is changed, nor the writer’s writing, nor the composer’s music, nor the editor’s editing, nor the director’s directing. No. It is the cameraman’s photography which is totally altered – from what was an expressive work of intricately refined light and shadow to a totally different form, completely foreign to the cinematographer’s vision of the story. […] I concur with the ASC’s position that producers should have the right, as owners of films, to exploit them in whatever economic manner they have available to them, provided, however, that any material alterations they allow to be made should be clearly labeled to indicate that they were made to the original version and were done without the collaboration or consent of the cinematographer. This is absolutely necessary to protect our integrity and reputation as artists. […] I know that perhaps some young people in America today scorn the impressionistic beauty of the classic black and white film – the master achievement of Hollywood’s Golden Era. But because some people do not appreciate the black and white picture does not mean all should be robbed of the joy of seeing a classic in its original beauty and splendor. […] I believe firmly in the preservation of the historical black and white image… to tamper with it would be sacrilegious, no matter what method is used. This would be tantamount to altering a single note of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which is unthinkable.”
This film impacted me as a child being one of the first Black and Bhite movies my brother and I had ever seen, excluding Popeye and Mickey Mouse. My stepmother, rented a couple movies for us to watch because she wanted us to know more about films and actors besides the regular mainstream films like Batman Returns, Disney’s Robin Hood, Beauty and the Beast, etc.
One of the two was, the “Night of the Hunter” and another with Shirley Temple as an adult. I loathed having to watch it because it was BLACK AND WHITE! My young 8 year old mind was thinking, “only old people watch this! I can’t wait for this to be over! It’s the weekend! WHHHYYYYY!!!” Little did I know, pure goodness was about to happen.
So, that friday or saturday night, we popped the Extra Buttery Movie popcorn (which I loved more than anything) and she popped the tape in the VCR.
Immediately, I was sucked in! Talk about being glued to the TV with regular pauses for bathroom breaks for me and my brother! #MINDBLOWN
John and Pearl were basically me and my brother. I could relate to that because I was the older of us two and I was also very protective of him. As a kid, I trusted no one. One being, my father taught me not to talk to strangers, two, everyone is not your friend, and three, people kidnap kids everyday and you will not be one of them. As we watched the movie, I couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out, as well as talk to my stepmom about it. I watched it again the next day!
My brother and I still talk about this film to this day because it was so memorable and impacted us on a different level than most other movies. The “bad guy” wasn’t dressed in a costume and the good guy wasn’t a man. The children lost their mother at a young age and had to find a way to not only eat and survive, but outrun the “bad guy” who killed their mother and would kill them too! As a child, I was amazed! I thought to myself, if anything happened, I would be John. I’d figure out a way to get both of us to safety if we were ever kidnapped.
So, here are some little facts I found out about the movie…
Charles Laughton, who directed the film, never directed another film again. The Box Office failure affected him deeply that he never directed again. He also did not interact with the child actors because of their lack of experience.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame actor.
Only film he ever directed. It received such bad reviews that he never directed anything ever again.
With Lillian Gish, at their initial meeting, Gish asked him why he wanted her for the part; Laughton said, “When I first went to the movies, they sat in their seats straight and leaned forward. Now they slump down, with their heads back, and eat candy and popcorn. I want them to sit up straight again.” Can I have someone speak so elegantly of me and my career as an artist!
If you don’t know who she is…you have officially lost Film Cred (i.e. any credibility that you are a film lover) and may no longer participate in this goodness of Ceniphilia (i.e. the love of films).
….I’m just joshing you! Relax…relax.
Anywho, I’ll do a part two with more goodness about this movie with Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters and the .
Thats all for now…ttfn…tata for now!