We continue our survey of the twenty greatest movies of the 1950s.
For a complete listing of the greatest movies of the 20, 30s and 40s, click here.
13. Night of the Hunter, 1955
Night of the Hunter, more than any other movie I have ever seen, succeeds brilliantly in evoking the terrors of childhood.
Director Charles Laughton (Robert Mitchum is uncredited, but he directed the children) described it as “a nightmarish sort of Mother Goose tale.” Written by James Agee and Laughton, and based on a novel of the same name by Davis Grubb, Night of the Hunter is set in Depression-era West Virginia. Robert Mitchum plays Harry Powers, an ex-con who poses as a back-woods minister, marries widows for their money, and then murders them.
Mitchum’s Rev. Harry, silkily sinister with a voice like an oboe, has the word “love” tattooed on one set of knuckles, and “hate” on the other. Rarely has a film so elegantly and so chillingly announced its subject matter.