A 2021 Film Journey: Day 270

I don’t know what to say, but mental health is really hard. The way that my depression shows itself is by making me unable to participate in the things that I love. And I love film. Today I set out to start getting back in the habit by sitting down and forcing myself to watch something. It felt like more of a chore than I would have liked but getting back in the habit is worth it.

The Night of the Hunter (1955, Dir. Charles Laughton)

The Night of the Hunter | The Film Noir Report

I return to this project by checking off a huge blind spot. While The Night of the Hunter may not have been released to immediate critical acclaim – the film received zero Oscar nominations – in the 65 years that have followed Charles Laughton’s only directorial outing has become revered as one of cinema’s all-time greats. The morbid story of two children whose parents are both killed over a large sum of money and the crazed priest who stocks had a lasting impact. The tension that was built is all encompassing.

Much of that tension comes from the performance of Robert Mitchum as the priest and former convict Harry Powell. He builds a convincing argument as a stable preacher who can be trusted with the raising of two children. The second he is alone with the kids he turns his performance into a man to be feared. This dual faced performance is the clear highlight of the film, and his hymnal singing in the middle of the night is a lasting, haunting moment.