Sunday, March 18, 2007

Great movie alert... Night of the Hunter (1955)

I just noticed that my DVR was recording one of my favorite movies of all times... Night of the Hunter (1955). If you haven't seen it, you should. It stars Robert Mitchum, silent film star Lillian Gish and Shelly Winters. The only film Charles Laughton directed, it was based on a story by James Agee. At it's core, it's a version of Little Red Robin Hood, with the wolf as a killer in preacher's clothing and Robin as two Depression era kids (John and Pearl). Mitchum is deliciously evil as the preacher who woos a killer's widow in order to get to the money he hid. When he realizes the woman doesn't know anything about the murder, he dispatches her and takes off after the kids who have seen his true colors and run for their lives. They end up at Lillian Gish's place (Rachel Cooper) and join her happy brood of unofficial foster kids. Where the Preacher sees a dark and vengeful G-d (Old Testament, if you will), the Widow Cooper sees a G-d of light and forgiveness (New Testament, anyone?). As in any movie with good and evil, the two sides meet in a showdown and one of them gets it in the end.

Several years ago, it was adapted into a stage musical. Oh, and if you are looking for this on television, make sure you are watching the 1955 version, and not the made for tv version from the early 90s. Trust me. It's a mistake I made once and will never make again.

In the 60 years since this film was released, there have been many homages to it, owing mostly to the love and hate tattoos on the Preacher's knuckles (Do the Right Thing and The Simpsons are among the most prominent).

Cool Quotes...

Ben Harper
: I got tired of seein' children roamin' the woodlands without food, children roamin' the highways in this here Depression, children sleepin' in old abandoned car bodies in junk heaps. And I promised myself that I'd never see the day when my young-uns had want.

Rev. Powell: [when he notices John staring at the words "love" and "hate" tattooed across his knuckles] Ah, little lad, you're staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand/left-hand? The story of good and evil? H-A-T-E! It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. L-O-V-E! You see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends, the hand of love. Now watch, and I'll show you the story of life. Those fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warring and a-tugging, one agin t'other. Now watch 'em! Old brother left hand, left hand he's a fighting, and it looks like love's a goner. But wait a minute! Hot dog, love's a winning! Yessirree! It's love that's won, and old left hand hate is down for the count!"

Rachel Cooper: You know, when you're little, you have more endurance than God is ever to grant you again. Children are humanity's strongest. They abide.

Icey Spoon: [about the conjugal bed] When you've been married to a man for forty years you know all that don't amount to a hill of beans. I've been married to Walt that long and I swear in all that time I just lie there thinkin' about my canning.

Icey Spoon: [about sex in marriage] A woman's a fool to marry for that. That's somethin' for a man. The Good Lord never meant for a decent woman to want that. Not really want it. It's all just a fake and a pipe dream.

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