The Night of the Hunter directed by Charles Laughton

Table of Contents

Important background 2

Charles Laughton 2

Laughton and film 2

Inspiration for the original novel 2

The Great Depression (1929-1933) 2

Plot overview 4

Outline 4

Summary 4

Character profiles (with Cast) 5

Genre and Style 6

Themes with Analysis 7

Important background

Charles Laughton

Charles Laughton was born on July 1, 1899 in Yorkshire, England. He was the son of Robert Laughton, a Yorkshire hotel keeper. His mother was a devout Catholic of Irish descent. Laughton briefly attended Scarborough College, a local boys' school in his area, before attending Stonyhurst College, an English Jesuit school.

Laughton made his film debut in the 1928 British silent comedy Blue Bottles, the set of which would introduce him to his future wife Elsa Lanchester. In 1931, Laughton made his New York stage debut, which led to many film offers and he would star in his first Hollywood film the following year, the 1932 release, The Old Dark House.

Laughton and film

Laughton's true breakout role occurred in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), for which Laughton won the Academy Award for Best Actor for portraying the title character in 1934.

Laughton soon gave up the stage for films and would star in many. In 1955, Laughton made his directorial debut on the big screen with The Night of the Hunter (1955), starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters. Although at the time the film was a critical and box-office flop, it has since been cited by many as one of the greatest films of the 1950s. It has also been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

The Night of the Hunter would be the only feature film Laughton directed in his career. Laughton was so disappointed by the film’s response to that he never directed another; he scrapped his planned direction of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead.

Inspiration for the original novel

The Night of the Hunter is based on a novel by David Grubb; James Agee and Charles Laughton wrote the screenplay for the subsequent film.

Grubb drew on su...

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