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Night of the Hunter


  1. Directed by: Charles Laughton
  2. Produced by: Paul Gregory
  3. Written by: James Agee
    Davis Grubb
    Charles Laughton
  4. Music by: Walter Schumann
  5. Cinematography by: Stanley Cortez
  6. Editing by: Robert Golden
  7. Release Date: 1955
  8. Running Time: 92
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

There are stories so painful, so terrifying, so true, that they can only be about children. When they are packaged as such, we call them fairy tales. When they are made for and by adults, we sometimes call them horror films. 

Edmund Burke once argued that horror was the most sublime genre because it was productive of the most extreme emotions. Night of the Hunter fits that bill because its horrors are primal rather than visceral. Several of the films on this list feature children laboring under the trauma of hard, indifferent, or downright evil fathers and who find God's love reflected best (or only) in real or surrogate mothers: The Tree of Life, The Kid With a Bike, Frisco Jenny

And then there is Night of the Hunter. Charles Laughton's film is, in so many ways, sui generis. It is the prolific actor's only official directing credit. It features the oddest yet most hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" you will ever hear; an elderly spinster in a rocking chair with a shotgun and a sadistic wolf in sheep's clothing singing in perfect harmony. And it is a story that reminds us that sometime, in our brokenness and perversity, we choose the monster -- and God saves us anyway.

C.S. Lewis, among others, has wrestled with the vexing question of why we enjoy our villains so much more than our heroes. My answer has always been that, deep down, we don't. We might be seduced by the promise of wealth or power for a season, but eventually deep cries out to deep. In a century in which artists have had a seemingly endless array of unspeakable cruelties to mirror, in which violence sears our souls and assaults our sensibilities, it is the moments of courage, bravery, and love that both take our breath away and help us piece our broken hearts back together. Whether it is a boy running from the only home he has known to protect his mute sister or a woman opening her home to a set of hungry orphans, the great heroes of spiritual cinema dare to be their brothers' keepers. And before Anton Chigurgh and Hannibal Lecter made fashionable the chic invulnerability of the postmodern monster, our art used to tell us that love was a stronger force than greed or evil. From whence comes the courage to confront our own demons and those who roam with momentary impunity across the land? 

What have I to dread?

What have I to fear?

Leaning on the everlasting arms...

-- Kenneth R. Morefield


  1. Directed by: Charles Laughton
  2. Produced by: Paul Gregory
  3. Written by: James Agee
    Davis Grubb
    Charles Laughton
  4. Music by: Walter Schumann
  5. Cinematography by: Stanley Cortez
  6. Editing by: Robert Golden
  7. Release Date: 1955
  8. Running Time: 92
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

There are stories so painful, so terrifying, so true, that they can only be about children. When they are packaged as such, we call them fairy tales. When they are made for and by adults, we sometimes call them horror films. 

Edmund Burke once argued that horror was the most sublime genre because it was productive of the most extreme emotions. Night of the Hunter fits that bill because its horrors are primal rather than visceral. Several of the films on this list feature children laboring under the trauma of hard, indifferent, or downright evil fathers and who find God's love reflected best (or only) in real or surrogate mothers: The Tree of Life, The Kid With a Bike, Frisco Jenny

And then there is Night of the Hunter. Charles Laughton's film is, in so many ways, sui generis. It is the prolific actor's only official directing credit. It features the oddest yet most hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" you will ever hear; an elderly spinster in a rocking chair with a shotgun and a sadistic wolf in sheep's clothing singing in perfect harmony. And it is a story that reminds us that sometime, in our brokenness and perversity, we choose the monster -- and God saves us anyway.

C.S. Lewis, among others, has wrestled with the vexing question of why we enjoy our villains so much more than our heroes. My answer has always been that, deep down, we don't. We might be seduced by the promise of wealth or power for a season, but eventually deep cries out to deep. In a century in which artists have had a seemingly endless array of unspeakable cruelties to mirror, in which violence sears our souls and assaults our sensibilities, it is the moments of courage, bravery, and love that both take our breath away and help us piece our broken hearts back together. Whether it is a boy running from the only home he has known to protect his mute sister or a woman opening her home to a set of hungry orphans, the great heroes of spiritual cinema dare to be their brothers' keepers. And before Anton Chigurgh and Hannibal Lecter made fashionable the chic invulnerability of the postmodern monster, our art used to tell us that love was a stronger force than greed or evil. From whence comes the courage to confront our own demons and those who roam with momentary impunity across the land? 

What have I to dread?

What have I to fear?

Leaning on the everlasting arms...

-- Kenneth R. Morefield

There are stories so painful, so terrifying, so true, that they can only be about children. When they are packaged as such, we call them fairy tales. When they are made for and by adults, we sometimes call them horror films. 

Edmund Burke once argued that horror was the most sublime genre because it was productive of the most extreme emotions. Night of the Hunter fits that bill because its horrors are primal rather than visceral. Several of the films on this list feature children laboring under the trauma of hard, indifferent, or downright evil fathers and who find God's love reflected best (or only) in real or surrogate mothers: The Tree of Life, The Kid With a Bike, Frisco Jenny

And then there is Night of the Hunter. Charles Laughton's film is, in so many ways, sui generis. It is the prolific actor's only official directing credit. It features the oddest yet most hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" you will ever hear; an elderly spinster in a rocking chair with a shotgun and a sadistic wolf in sheep's clothing singing in perfect harmony. And it is a story that reminds us that sometime, in our brokenness and perversity, we choose the monster -- and God saves us anyway.

C.S. Lewis, among others, has wrestled with the vexing question of why we enjoy our villains so much more than our heroes. My answer has always been that, deep down, we don't. We might be seduced by the promise of wealth or power for a season, but eventually deep cries out to deep. In a century in which artists have had a seemingly endless array of unspeakable cruelties to mirror, in which violence sears our souls and assaults our sensibilities, it is the moments of courage, bravery, and love that both take our breath away and help us piece our broken hearts back together. Whether it is a boy running from the only home he has known to protect his mute sister or a woman opening her home to a set of hungry orphans, the great heroes of spiritual cinema dare to be their brothers' keepers. And before Anton Chigurgh and Hannibal Lecter made fashionable the chic invulnerability of the postmodern monster, our art used to tell us that love was a stronger force than greed or evil. From whence comes the courage to confront our own demons and those who roam with momentary impunity across the land? 

What have I to dread?

What have I to fear?

Leaning on the everlasting arms...

-- Kenneth R. Morefield


  1. Directed by: Charles Laughton
  2. Produced by: Paul Gregory
  3. Written by: James Agee
    Davis Grubb
    Charles Laughton
  4. Music by: Walter Schumann
  5. Cinematography by: Stanley Cortez
  6. Editing by: Robert Golden
  7. Release Date: 1955
  8. Running Time: 92
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix
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