Night of the Hunter

September 21, 2014 No Comments


Sunday, October 26 (1-3pm)  marks the 2014 premier of the Reel Deal Film Series!

This year’s event is special.  Elliot Wilhelm, the curator of the Detroit Film Theater, will occupy the director’s chair and provide discussion and clip analysis of this provocative (and timely) film.  The film is also the subject of urban legend.  Charles Laughton directed it and NEVER directed another movie. Why?  Robert Michum’s iconic portrayal of evil laced with charm remains a bad guy benchmark.  Tales of Michum’s  off-screen behavior provided the color in this classically constructed black and white film and some suggest that he himself directed several of the film’s pivotal scenes.  Maybe.    Shelly Winters(known much later as a plus-size actress) and Lillian Gish(revered for her seminal work with D.W. Griffith) define the boundaries of feminine purpose and meaning, aided by an additional character named “Icy Spoons.”  What’s in a name?

It’s a challenge to say much about a film like this without revealing too much and spoiling the tension that  builds throughout the film.  If you haven’t already seen the film or if it has been a while, it is easily available through Netflix or Amazon Instant Video ( where it can be immediately downloaded for a nominal fee).   There is also a 2 disc Criterion Collection version filled with additional interviews.  It is a riveting film the first time it is screened and only gets better with repeated viewings.

The film is visually unforgettable and it is unfortunate that Laughton never knew that his “flop” has become a masterpiece.  It is richly psychological and never wavers from the insistence that we adult viewers acknowledge and take responsibility for the vulnerability of children.   There will be a discussion of this aspect by a psychoanalyst(me) at the program, who already can’t stop thinking about the themes that unfold throughout.

There is a month to enter into discussion about the film prior to the Reel Deal event.  Feel free to post questions and comments.

See you at the Bloomfield Library on October 26!

Jolyn Wagner




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