In this terrifying tale of Good vs Evil, Robert Mitchum plays a “preacher” who roams the countryside, spreading the gospel, and leaving murdered women in the wake. His knuckles eerily tattooed with “love” and “hate”, he strongly believes that the work of God has more to do with condemning souls than saving them. Now his eyes are set on $10,000, and the only ones who know where the money’s hidden are two little children! “Chill…dren”! the preacher yells for the terrified boy and girl hiding in the cold, scary cellar. If this sounds too dark, then perhaps it is. Afterall, this movie was way ahead of its time in its depiction of a society where a charlatan preacher exists. Keep in mind that the idea of a serial killer disguised as a man of God was out of the question in the 1950’s. But there it was, a fairy tale story of Good vs. Evil, Innocence vs. Corruption as personified by the children against the evil preacher. His pursuit of the children is so frightening and menacing, that it becomes impossible to believe that they can escape. One of the most haunting scenes finds one of Mitchum’s victims lying at the bottom of a river, her throat slit, looking peaceful and troubled at the same time. Film buffs are in for a treat. What’s more, Black in White is used superbly here to create an atmosphere of brooding terror (which definitely worked for the benefit of the picture).
“The Night Of The Hunter” is an extraordinary film noir, and definitely one of the most fascinating American films ever made.