The Night of the Hunter

Synopsis: The Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is a religious fanatic and serial killer who targets women who use their sexuality to attract men. Serving time in prison for car theft, he meets condemned murderer Ben Harper (Peter Graves), who confesses to hiding $10,000 in stolen loot. Released from jail, Powell is obsessed with finding the money, and he tracks down Harper's widow, Willa (Shelley Winters), and her two children, John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce).
Production: United Artists
  2 wins.
 
IMDB:
8.0
Metacritic:
99
Rotten Tomatoes:
98%
NOT RATED
Year:
1955
92 min
Website
1,903 Views


FULL SHOT -- THE STARLIT SKY

VOICE:

And He opened His mouth and taught

them, saying...

FADE sky to day.

LAP DISSOLVE TO:

LONG SHOT -- HELICOPTER -- OHIO RIVER COUNTRY

High over the country, CENTERING the winding river.

VOICE:

Beware of false prophets...

LOWER LONG SHOT -- HELICOPTER -- RIVER COUNTRY

We approach a riverside village.

VOICE:

...which come to you in sheep's

clothing...

A CLOSER, LOWER HELICOPTER SHOT

We descend low over a deserted house; CHILDREN in yard run

and hide; we hear "IT" counting "five, ten, fifteen,

twenty..."

VOICE:

...but inwardly they are ravening

wolves.

MEDIUM SHOT -- "IT"

He finishes his count with a loud "Hundred" and turns, then:

"IT"

What's wrong?

We PAN as he comes towards a little boy, beside an open cellar

door, who gestures towards the open door. "IT" looks down.

"IT"

(a low gasp)

Heyy!

(then he shouts to

all and to us)

Heyy!

We DOLLY IN fast to, and TILT DOWN into open cellar, into:

CLOSE SHOT -- A LEG

A skeletal leg in a rotted fume of stocking and a high-heeled

shoe. We HOLD a moment, then PULL UP and AWAY over the

converging heads of several CHILDREN. A CHILD whimpers softly.

HELICOPTER SHOT:

The yard and the CHILDREN, same angle and height as the last

descending helicopter shot. We PULL BACK and AWAY.

VOICE:

Ye shall know them by their fruits.

DISSOLVE TO:

HIGH LONG SHOT -- HELICOPTER

CENTERING the river.

VOICE:

A good tree cannot bring forth evil

fruit...

LOWER LONG SHOT (HELICOPTER)

CENTERING on open touring car, as it drives along a river

road.

VOICE:

Neither can a corrupt tree bring

forth good fruit.

We STOOP LOW towards the car.

VOICE:

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall

know them.

CUT TO:

CLOSE SHOT -- PREACHER

He is the driver of the car. Pleasant river landscapes

(PROCESS) flow behind him. He is dressed in dark clothes, a

paper collar, a string tie. As he drives he talks to himself.

PREACHER:

What's it to be, Lord, another widow?

Has it been six? Twelve?... I

disremember.

He nods, smiles, and touches his hat. We see a farm couple

in a poor wagon.

PREACHER:

You say the word, and I'm on my way.

LAP DISSOLVE TO:

CLOSE SHOT -- PREACHER DRIVING

He brakes his car in a small riverside town; then proceeds.

PREACHER:

You always send me money to go forth

and preach your Word.

A widow with a little wad of bills hidden away in the sugar-

bowl.

LAP DISSOLVE TO:

CLOSE SHOT -- PREACHER DRIVING

He shifts into second gear, climbing a steep little hill.

PREACHER:

I am tired. Sometimes I wonder if

you really understand.

(pause)

Not that you mind the killin's...

The stones of a country graveyard gleam in the last daylight.

PREACHER:

Yore Book is full of killin's.

He starts fast and noisily down a steep hill.

PREACHER:

But there are things you do hate,

Lord:
perfume-smellin' things --

lacy things -- things with curly

hair --

CUT TO:

INT. A BURLESQUE HOUSE -- MEDIUM CLOSE SHOT -- A DANCER

She is hard at work, to music o.s.

FULL SHOT -- AUDIENCE -- CENTERING ON PREACHER, IN AISLE

SEAT:

Among the members of the sad burlesque audience, he is in

strong contrast:
a sour and aggressive expression. Music

o.s. We MOVE IN fast to a HEAD CLOSE-UP.

MEDIUM CLOSE SHOT -- THE DANCER INSERT -- PREACHER'S LEFT

HAND:

Labeled H-A-T-E in tattoo across four knuckles, it grips and

flexes.

INSERT -- HIS RIGHT HAND

Before we see the lettering he slides it into his pocket.

EXTREME CLOSE SHOT -- PREACHER

His head slants; a cold smile; one eyelid flutters.

INSERT -- RIGHT HAND AND POCKET

We hear the snapping open of a switch-blade knife and the

point of the knife cuts through his clothes.

LESS EXTREME CLOSE SHOT -- PREACHER

He seems to "listen" for something.

PREACHER:

No, there are too many of them; you

can't kill a world.

A hand descends firmly onto his shoulder. He glances up behind

him as we

TILT TO:

CLOSE SHOT -- A STATE TROOPER

He bends down and speaks quietly next PREACHER'S ear.

Rate this script:4.0 / 1 vote

James Agee

James Rufus Agee (November 27, 1909 – May 16, 1955) was an American novelist, journalist, poet, screenwriter and film critic. In the 1940s, he was one of the most influential film critics in the U.S. His autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family (1957), won the author a posthumous 1958 Pulitzer Prize. more…

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