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The Night of the Hunter (1955)

aka The Night of the Hunter

"The wedding night, the anticipation, the kiss, the knife, BUT ABOVE ALL...THE SUSPENSE!"

Details: 93 mins · English


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Small Harry Powell
Small Willa Harper
Small Rachel Cooper
Small Birdie Steptoe
No_movie_poster Icey Spoon
Small Ben Harper
Small Walt Spoon
No_movie_poster John Harper
No_movie_poster Pearl Harper
No_movie_poster Ruby


Small James Agee Screenplay
No_movie_poster Stanley Cortez Director of Photography
Small Charles Laughton Director
No_movie_poster Davis Grubb Novel
No_movie_poster Paul Gregory Producer
No_movie_poster Walter Schumann Original Music Composer
No_movie_poster Robert Golden Editor
Small Robert Mitchum Director
No_movie_poster Terry Sanders Director
Small Charles Laughton Writer
No_movie_poster Davis Grubb Story Contributor


"The wedding night, the anticipation, the kiss, the knife, BUT ABOVE ALL...THE SUSPENSE!"

"The wedding night, the anticipation, the kiss, the knife, BUT ABOVE ALL... THE SUSPENSE!"


The film is set in 1930s West Virginia, along the Ohio River. Ben Harper is sentenced to hang for his part in a robbery in which two men were killed. Before he is caught he hides the stolen money, trusting only his son John, the film's protagonist, with the money's location. John has a much younger sister, Pearl. Reverend Harry Powell, a serial killer and self-appointed preacher with the two words "LOVE" and "HATE" tattooed across the knuckles of his right and left hands, shares a prison cell with Harper. He tries to get Harper to tell him where he hid the money before his execution, but the only clue he gets is a Bible verse Harper mutters in his sleep: "And a little child shall lead them."

Convinced that Harper told his children the secret, Powell woos and marries Harper's widow, Willa. Willa does not know her new husband's motive and believes her marriage will lead to her salvation. Powell asks the children about the money when they are alone, but they reveal nothing. John is suspicious of Powell and protective of his sister. One night Willa overhears her husband questioning the children and she realizes the truth. As she lies in bed that night in their attic bedroom, Powell leans over her and slits her throat.

Powell dumps Willa's body in the river. He finally learns the money's location from Pearl by threatening John. However, just after he finds out the location of the money, the children manage to flee with the money down the river by momentarily incapacitating Powell by John knocking him on the head. They eventually find sanctuary with Rachel Cooper, a tough old woman who looks after stray children. Powell eventually tracks them down, but Rachel sees through his false virtue. After a climactic standoff, in which Rachel protects the children with a shotgun but sings hymns through the night with Powell, he is arrested by the police, tried, and, apparently, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Willa and for the crimes against the children. Towards the end of the film, Rachel declares that "children are man at his strongest. They abide." The film ends with her speaking directly to camera: "They abide and they endure."

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1955-07-26 : United States of America

DVD : 2000-01-25

DVD : 2001-05-15