Saturday, January 13, 2018

Charles Laughton and "The Night of the Hunter"

CHARLES LAUGHTON DIRECTS THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is one of the most thorough and revealing looks into the making of a film that I've yet seen. It provides a fascinating look at the different takes of each scene and how Laughton coached the actors through them. It's like watching the movie take shape before your very eyes.

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is such an utterly unique film that I've often wondered what specific influences may have shaped its style. With this in mind, it was interesting to learn that during pre-production, Laughton and cinematographer Stanley Cortez spent a good deal of time at MoMA watching silent films for inspiration, many of them early films by D.W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish.

The influence of silent film acting relates directly to something that always deeply impresses me about Mitchum's performance in the film, in that it is such an intensely physical performance. He twists and contorts his body into the very personification of evil.

The entire 2 1/2 hour documentary of CHARLES LAUGHTON DIRECTS THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER can be found on Disc 2 of Criterion's excellent Blu-ray edition of the film.

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