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Archive for July 3rd, 2012

One of my favorite actors is the late Charles Laughton, the portly Englishman who is perhaps most famous for his portrayal of Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty from 1935.  His looks were not like those of a typical leading man but he was able to overcome this with his sheer acting abilities and a screen presence that enhanced everything in which he was cast.  He could pay both despicable villain or the comic hero with ease.  But one of his most amazing performances for me was that of  the director of the movie The Night of the Hunter from 1955.

His first attempt at directing for the big screen, the film  was a flop at the box office and was panned by critics causing Laughton to forever give up directing.  But over the years the film has grown in stature and Laughton’s beautiful treatment of the creepy tale has garnered accolades, making me wonder what other great films he might have made if he has found greater initial success with The Night of the Hunter.

I am really drawn to his use of stark black and white imagery, using the contrasts to really accentuate the struggle within the tale between good and evil.  Robert Mitchum’s evil preacher, Harry Powell, with tattoos reading LOVE and HATE on his knuckles is contrasted with the delicate strength of Lillian Gish’s character.  It seems as though every scene is composed like a beautiful black and white painting. with imagery that reinforces the tension of the tale.    Just a wonderful film to look at.

TCM is showing The Night of the Hunter on July 5 at 10 PM.

Here’s a great scene with Mitchum and Gish.

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