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The Night of the Hunter

May 14 @ 6:00 pm

Playing in the CCA Cinema

Part of CCA’s monthly Closer Looks film discussion series

(United States, 1955)/ Selected by Paul Barnes

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 that he’d stolen in a robbery.

Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called “Cautious Man”. It contains a line inspired by The Night of the Hunter“On his right hand Billy’d tattooed the word ‘love’ and on his left hand was the word ‘fear’ And in which hand he held his fate was never clear”

In the film, there’s a famous scene in which Robert Mitchum as an enigmatic Reverend says to a little boy, “Ah, little lad, you’re staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand/left-hand?”

The Night of the Hunter – incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed – is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children.

Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, telling its chilling story through visual fantasy, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic – featuring the contributions of the great silent actress Lillian Gish and renowned writer James Agee – is cinema’s most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil. Charles Laughton showed here that he had an original eye, and a taste for material that stretched the conventions of the movies. It is risky to combine horror and humor, and foolhardy to approach them through expressionism. For his first film, Laughton made a film like no other before or since, and with such confidence it seemed to draw on a lifetime of experience.

– Paul Barnes

Director: Charles Laughton
Writers: Davis Grubb, James Agee, Charles Laughton
Features: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
Run time: 1 hr. 32 min.
Film: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Language: English

Closer Looks is an in-depth cinema series curated by the award-winning filmmaker and editor Paul Barnes, film critic and writer David N. Meyer, and founder/programmer of local microcinema No Name Cinema, Justin Clifford Rhody. The series showcases a broad range of eras, regions, and subjects, all unified by their integral contribution to the history of cinema as an art form. Each film screening is followed by an in-depth overview and audience conversation by the presenters to contextualize and explore the importance of the evening’s film.


Note: Tickets are only $3.00 for EBT cardholders

1050 Old Pecos Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87505 United States
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