In concert with Film Quotes Film and Riverdale 10 Cinema, Arkansas Times Film Series presents Charles Laughton’s grim fairy tale, “Night of the Hunter.”
Besides the dark impressionism that made the film a cited influence of the likes of The Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, David Lynch, and Martin Scorsese, it also includes the notable honor of a later-in-life cameo from silent film star Lillian Gish, and what is likely the creepiest rendition of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” in the hymn’s history.
The film, an adaptation of a book by Davis Grubb, owes much of its ethereal spook factor to Mitchum’s chilling performance as a con artist posing as a Reverend (a role which Gary Cooper turned down because he thought it’d damage his career),and to a chilling expressionistic score by Bernard Schumann, on which he worked closely with Laughton.
According to Stuart Oderman’s biography of Gish, “Lillian Gish: A Life on Stage and Screen,” Laughton reportedly told Gish in the film’s nascent stages:
“When I first went to the movies, they sat in their seats straight and leaned forward. Now they slump down, with their heads back, and eat candy and popcorn. I want them to sit up straight again.”
Check out Film Quotes Film’s discussion on “Night of the Hunter” beforehand, led by Omaya Jones, David Thedig, and Michael Carpenter. Tonight’s screening begins at 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased in advance at Riverdale 10’s website.