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Film Club November 2018: Night of the Hunter


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Link to our existing thread on the film

Link to Edward Allie's blurb  for A&F Top 100

I watched the Criterion disc this morning so that I could listen to the commentary from Terry Sanders, F.X. Feeney, Robert Gitt, and Neal Jones. In general, I like commentaries with fewer speakers because I think they can be a little more carefully constructed. This commentary wasn't bad, but it wasn't my favorite. Interesting snippets that caught my attention included:

  • Laughton's use of Sound Bridging,
  • Pointing out that Harry kills Willa with his "L-O-V-E" hand. 
  • Pointing out that Harry is not allowed to say  or reference "Jesus." (Rachel's use of his name in the counter-point of the hymn is interesting to me in that regard. 

There is an assertion early in the commentary that the film is about "duality." And certainly Harry's introduction with the wrestling hands is an easy reference. But is Harry as a whole conflicted? Is he meant to show the internal conflict between good and evil? Or is he just evil that is contrasted with Rachel's goodness? Perhaps Harry's wrestling hands is a performance for the audience. The commentators do cite an early scene in which Harry watches a showgirl and clenches his fist, putting it into his pocket. I guess this could convey struggle of some sort. But I've mostly only ever seen Harry as an allegorical figure, a monster pursuing the kids. If he had the LOVE-HATE struggle, he lost it long ago...or am I missing something?

Edit: I don't suppose anyone has seen the Richard Chamberlain television remake?

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  • 4 months later...

Harry is often compared to a (were)wolf in sheep's clothing—think of him extending his hand to the moon before he kills Willa or yelping and running to the barn after being shot by Rachel—and I think that is the dualism involved. Not so much someone struggling between right and wrong, but someone who is quintessentially malevolent but constantly trying to appear good. 

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