The Night of the Hunter

Rated 5.0

Charles Laughton’s sublime 1955 The Night of the Hunter is cited as a classic for many reasons—the dreamlike black-and-white photography by Stanley Cortez (Touch of Evil), Robert Mitchum’s singular performance as a Bible-thumping serial killer, and for being the best film ever made by a one-time-only director (the second best: James William Guercio’s Electra Glide in Blue). However, The Night of the Hunter doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the most quotable movies in American cinema. Spike Lee already appropriated Mitchum’s “good vs. evil” speech for Do the Right Thing, but James Agee’s screenplay is packed with bons mots: “My whole body’s just a-quiverin’ with cleanness”; “A husband’s one piece of store goods you never know ’til you get it home and take the paper off”; “She’ll be losing her mind to a tricky mouth and a full moon.”