Ben Harper has committed murder for $10,000. He hides the money and makes daughter
Pearl and son John promise not to tell anyone where it is hidden, not even their
mother Willa (Shelley Winters). While in prison awaiting hanging, Ben meets the
Preacher (Robert Mitchum), another inmate, who tries unsuccessfully to get Ben to
reveal where the banknotes are stashed. When the Preacher is released from prison, he
heads for the Harper home, intent on finding the money. The Preacher charms Willa and
wins her hand in marriage, only to kill her when she learns what he is really like. He
then proceeds to hunt down Pearl and John, who hold the key to the missing fortune.
The only film ever directed by actor Charles Laughton, "The Night of the Hunter"
is a truly compelling and terrifying thriller. The film is based on the 1953 novel of
the same name by American author Davis Grubb. The novel's plot was based on the
true story of Harry Powers, who was hanged in 1932 for the murders of two widows and
three children in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
Post-film discussion led by Dr. Rachel Ritterbusch.
Not rated in the US.
About the director,
by Roger Ebert
of the film, including quotes from the script.
about the book and its author.
that describes how the novel was adapted for film.