Night of the Hunter
directed by Charles Laughton DVD 810 LAU
A fake, murderous preacher Rev. Powell learns that an imprisoned father has the money from his robbery hidden somewhere near his home – we quickly learn it’s in the thief’s 4-year-old daughter’s doll. After Powell woos the townsfolk and, tragically, the children’s mother, the kids have to take off downriver, where they join the legions of children orphaned/abandoned by the Depression as they beg at doorways. Eventually they find a place in Rachel Cooper’s home for abandoned children, and in her their sole protector. But preacher-man ain’t giving up easy. This starkly vivid film, the only one directed by Charles Laughton, is still generally frightening and affecting – while I was wary in advance of being manipulated by sentimentality, the children and their sole, elderly protector are genuinely moving:
Rachel: “It’s a hard world for little things” (I burst into tears).
Rachel: “You know, when you’re little, you have more endurance than God is ever to grant you again. Children are man at his strongest.” (*sobs harder*).