Noc myśliwego / The Night Of The Hunter

USA, crime movie, 93 min.
dir. Charles Laughton
starring: Robert Mitchum, Peter Graves, Shelley Winters
A masterpiece of film noir, with Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell, a fake pastor who turns out to be a psychopathic criminal. The clergyman intends to marry the wife of a guy sentenced to death whom he met in prison, to later steal the money he had left. He succeeds in deceiving and manipulating both the woman and the local community – everybody believes that Powell is an authentic pastor. Only children remain wary…
This intense, excellent cinema debut by Charles Laughton, an actor who becomes a director for the first time, has been lost right after the premiere – mid-1950s were a golden age of colour panoramic movies, so a modest, black and white crime movie failed to attract large audience. It was appreciated only years later, when the fans of film noir discovered how unconventional and good this film is.
Strongly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, Laughton (who was Hitchcock’s assistant by among others Jamaica Inn) broke one of the fundamental rules of the Hays code, a set of
guidelines for cinema producers of that time. The code prohibited ridicule of the clergy, but he made Harry Powell a cruel, hideous character. Laughton smartly circumvented the rules by not presenting the character while preaching – the only thing that associated him with the clergy was his appearance and quoting Bible while talking to people. In 2001, the American Film Institute recognized The Night Of The Hunter to be one of a hundred best thrillers of all times. It is a true pity that Charles Laughton, disaffected by very little audience interest, never tried directing again. It is a rare treat to see this outstanding debut on the silver screen, so the festival audience will surely appreciate it. 

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