The Night of the Hunter

Directed by Charles Laughton
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The Independent Culture

(1955) Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) marries and murders widows for their money, believing he is helping God do away with women who arouse men's carnal instincts. Arrested for auto theft, he shares a cell with condemned killer Ben Harper (Peter Graves) and tries to get him to reveal the whereabouts of the $10,000 he stole. Only Ben's nineyearold son, John and fouryearold daughter, Pearl knows the money is in Pearl's doll and they have sworn to their father to keep this secret. After Ben is executed, Preacher goes to Cresap's Landing to court Ben's widow, Willa (Shelley Winters). He overwhelms her with his Scripture quoting, sermons and hymns, and she agrees to marry him. On their wedding night he tells her they will never have sex because it is sinful. When the depressed, confused, guilty woman catches him trying to force Pearl to reveal the whereabouts of the money, she is resigned to her fate but the children manage to escape downriver, with Preacher following close behind.


Charles Laughton


Davis Grubb (novel)

James Agee (screenplay)


Robert Mitchum... Harry Powell

Shelley Winters... Willa Harper

Lillian Gish... Rachel Cooper

James Gleason... Birdie Steptoe

Evelyn Varden... Icey Spoon

Peter Graves... Ben Harper

Don Beddoe... Walt Spoon

Billy Chapin... John Harper

Sally Jane Bruce... Pearl Harper

Gloria Castillo... Ruby (as Gloria Castilo)

Corey Allen... Macijah Blake, young man in town (unaccredited)

Paul Bryar... Bart, prison guard (unaccredited)

Cheryl Callaway... Mary (unaccredited)

Michael Chapin... Ruby's boyfriend (unaccredited)

Mary Ellen Clemons... Clary (unaccredited)

Kathy Garver... Child (unaccredited)

John Hamilton... Townsman who greets Rachel (unaccredited)

Gloria Pall... Dancer (unaccredited)


  • Charles Laughton had no great love for children and so despised directing them in this film that Robert Mitchum found himself directing the children in several scenes.