The Night of the Hunter (film)

1955 film by Charles Laughton

The Night of the Hunter is a 1955 film about a sinister crook, posing as a preacher, who pursues two children for the secret they are privy to: the location of a cache of money stolen by their father.

Directed by Charles Laughton. Written by James Agee and Charles Laughton, based on the novel by Davis Grubb.
The wedding night, the anticipation, the kiss, the knife, BUT ABOVE ALL... THE SUSPENSE!

'Preacher' Harry Powell Edit

  • Well now, what's it to be Lord? Another widow? How many has it been? Six? Twelve? I disremember. [He tips his hat] You say the word, Lord, I'm on my way...You always send me money to go forth and preach your Word. The widow with a little wad of bills hid away in a sugar bowl. Lord, I am tired. Sometimes I wonder if you really understand. Not that You mind the killin's. Your Book is full of killin's. But there are things you do hate Lord: perfume-smellin' things, lacy things, things with curly hair.
  • There are too many of them. Can't kill the world.
  • The Lord blinded mine enemies when they brought me in this evil place...I come not with peace, but with a sword...This sword has served me through many an evil time.
  • Lord, you sure knowed what You was doin' when You put me in this very cell at this very time. A man with $10,000 hid somewhere and a widow in the makin'.
  • Ah, little lad, you're starin' at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of Right Hand-Left Hand - the story of good and evil? [He raises his left hand] H-A-T-E! It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. [He raises his right hand] L-O-V-E. You see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends! The hand of love! Now watch and I'll show you the story of life. These fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warrin' and a-tuggin', one agin the other. Now, watch 'em. Ol' brother Left Hand. Left hand, he's a-fightin'. And it looks like LOVE's a goner. But wait a minute, wait a minute! Hot dog! LOVE's a winnin'? Yes, siree. It's LOVE that won, and ol' Left Hand HATE is down for the count!
  • [to the Spoons about Willa, after saying she ran off] It's my shame. It's my crown of thorns. I must wear it bravely...She'll not be back. I reckon I'm safe in promising you that. I tried to save her...But the devil wins sometimes. Can't nobody say I didn't do my best to save her.
  • Chilld - ren. Chilld - ren?
  • I can hear you whisperin', children, so I know you're down there. I can feel myself gettin' awful mad. I'm out of patience, children. I'm coming to find you now.
  • [to Pearl] No, no. No little lamb. Don't touch it. Now, don't touch my knife. That makes me mad. That makes me very, very mad. Now just tell me, where's the money hid? [banging his hand on the table] John doesn't matter! Can't I get that through your head, you poor silly, disgusting little wretch! [Pearl begins to cry] There now, you made me lose my temper. I'm sorry. I'm real sorry. Now just tell me, where's it hid, honey?
  • [singing] Leaning, leaning!
    Safe and secure from all alarms!
    Leaning, leaning!
    Leaning on the everlasting arms!
  • Oh, them poor little lambs. To think I never hoped to see them again in this world. No, dear Madam, if you was to know what a crown of thorns I've borne in my search for them stray chicks.
  • Once upon a time there was a pretty fly, he had a wife this pretty fly but one day she flew away, flew away. She had two pretty children, but one night those pretty children flew away into the sky, into the moon.
  • [after Rachel pulls a shotgun on him] All right, but you haven't heard the last of Harry Powell yet. The Lord God Jehovah will guide my hand in vengeance. Devil! You whores of Babylon! I'll be back, when it's dark.

Rachel Cooper Edit

  • Now, you remember children how I told you last Sunday about the good Lord going up into the mountain and talking to the people. And how he said, 'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.' And how he said that King Solomon in all his glory was not as beautiful as the lilies of the field. And I know you won't forget, 'Judge not lest you be judged,' because I explained that to you. And then the good Lord went on to say, 'Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly, they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them.'
  • [to John and Pearl] You two youngsters get up here to me this instant. Get on up to my house. Mind me now. I'll get me a switch!
  • [about a young couple] Goodness, fools. Look at that. She'll be losin' her mind to a tricky mouth and a full moon, and like as not I'll be saddled with the consequences.
  • I'm a strong tree with branches for many birds. I'm good for somethin' in this old world, and I know it, too.
  • You were looking for love, Ruby, in the only foolish way you knew how. We all need love, Ruby. I lost the love of my son. I found it with you all. You're going to grow up to be a strong, fine woman and I'm gonna see to it that you do.
  • It's a hard world for little things.
  • You know, when you're little, you have more endurance than God is ever to grant you again. Children are man at his strongest. They abide.
  • [about John's present to her of an apple] That's the richest gift a body could have.
  • Lord, save little children. You'd think the world would be ashamed to name such a day as Christmas for one of them and then go on in the same old way. My soul is humble when I see the way little ones accept their lot. Lord, save little children. The wind blows and the rain's a-cold. Yet they abide...They abide and they endure.

Willa Harper Edit

  • I feel clean! My whole body is a'quiver with cleanness!
  • You have all sinned. Which one of you can say, as I can say, that you drove a good man to murder because I kept a-houndin' him, for perfume, and clothes, and face paint? And he slew two human beings. And he come to me, and he said, 'Take this money, and buy yourself the clothes! And the paint!'...But brother-n, brother-n, oh that's where the Lord stepped in, that's where the Lord stepped in...He said, the Lord, to that man, 'You take that money, and you throw it in the river!'
  • John, you always make up that lie. There is no money. Why can't you get that through your head?
  • [to Powell] It ain't in the river, is it, Harry?...Ben never told you he throw'd it in the river, did he?...The children know where it's hid. John knows. Is that it, Harry? Then, it's still here amongst us, taintin' us. You must have known about it all along, Harry? But that ain't the reason why you married me. I know that much...He made you marry me, so you could show me the Way and the Life and the salvation for my soul. Ain't that so, Harry? So you might say that it was the money that brung us together. The rest of it don't matter.

Ben Harper Edit

  • The rock in the smokehouse, no, the bricks in the grape arbor, no, no, they'll dig for it. Sure. That's the place.
  • [to Powell] I got tired of seein' children roamin' the woodlands without food. Children roamin' the highways in this here Depression. Children sleepin' in old abandoned car bodies and junk heaps. And I promised myself I'd never see the day when my young-uns would want.

Icey Spoon Edit

  • No woman is able to raise growing youngsters alone. The Lord meant that job for two...It ain't a question of want it or not want it. You're no spring chicken. You're a grown woman with two little young-uns. It's a man you need in the house, Willa Harper.
  • [about Powell] It's a mighty good man would go out of his way to bring a word of cheer to a grieving widow.
  • [to Willa] That fella is just aching to settle down with some nice woman and make a home for himself...If ever I saw a sign from heaven...Pearl dotes on him.
  • When you been married to a man forty years, you know all that don't amount to a hill o' beans. I been married to my Walt that long and I swear, in all that time, I just lie there thinkin' about my canning....A woman's a fool to marry for that. That's somethin' for a man. The good Lord never meant for a decent woman to want that, not really want it. It's all just a fake and a pipe dream.
  • [at Powell's trial] Lynch him. Lynch him. Bluebeard. Twenty-five wives, and he killed every last one of 'em.

Other Edit

  • Birdie Steptoe: [after finding Willa's body] They'll think it was me. They'll think it was poor old Uncle Birdie. Ah, if you could have seen it, Bess, down there in the deep place, with her hair waving soft and lazy like meadow grass under flood water, and that slit in her throat, like she had an extra mouth. You're the only human mortal I can go to, Bess. If I go to the law, they'll hang it on me. Sweet heavens, save poor old Uncle Birdie.
  • John Harper: [hitting Powell with the doll] Here! Here! Take it back. Take it back. I don't want it. It's too much. Here! Here!

Dialogue Edit

Ben: First, swear you'll take care of little Pearl, guard her with your life, boy. Then, swear you won't never tell where the money's hid, not even your Mom.
John: Yes, Dad.
Ben: Do you understand?
John: Not even her?
Ben: You got common sense. She ain't. When you grow up, that money will belong to you. Now, stand up straight, look me in the eye. Raise your right hand, now swear. 'I'll guard Pearl with my life,'...'And I won't never tell about the money.'...You Pearl, you swear too. [Pearl nods]

Ben: What religion do you profess, Preacher?
Powell: The religion the Almighty and me worked out betwixt us.
Ben: I'll bet.
Powell: Salvation is a last minute business, boy...If you's to let that money serve the Lord's purpose, He might feel kindly turned towards ya...Now don't you think the Lord might change his mind if you was to... [Ben falls asleep]

Powell: The night before your father died, he told me what he did with that money. That money's at the bottom of the river, wrapped around a twelve-pound cobblestone.
Willa: I feel clean now. My whole body's just a-quivering with cleanness.

Powell: Good evening, John. Your mother and I are getting married tomorrow in Sisterville. She wants me to be a daddy to you and your sister.
John: You ain't my dad, you'll never be my dad.
Powell: When we get back, we're all going to be friends and share our fortunes together, John.
John: [shouting] You think you can make me tell, but I won't, I won't, I won't! [slaps a hand over his mouth]
Powell: Tell me what, boy?...We aren't keeping secrets from each other, are we, little lad?...Well, it don't matter. We've got a long time together, boy.

Willa: Harry?
Powell: I was praying.
Willa: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know. I--I thought...
Powell: You thought, Willa, that the moment you walked in that door, I'd start to paw at you in that abominable way that men are supposed to do on their weddin' night. Ain't that right now?
Willa: No, no, no. [She crosses her hands over her breasts]
Powell: I think it's time we made one thing perfectly clear, Willa. Marriage to me represents the blending of two spirits in the sight of heaven. Get up, Willa. Get up! Now go look at yourself yonder in that mirror. Do as I say! Look at yourself! What do ya see, girl? You see the body of a woman, the temple of creation and motherhood. You see the flesh of Eve that man since Adam has profaned. That body was meant for begettin' children. It was not meant for the lust of men. Do you want more children, Willa?
Willa: I-I, no.
Powell: It's the business of this marriage to mind those two you have now, not to beget more.
Willa: Yes.
Powell: All right, you can get in bed now, stop shiverin'.
Willa: [praying] Help me to get clean, so I can be what Harry wants me to be.

Powell: Where's the money hid?
John: [after hitting Powell on the head with a hairbrush] Pearl, you swore you wouldn't tell. You swore, you swore, you swore!
Pearl: You hit Daddy with a hairbrush.
Powell: Now you see, we just can't have anything to do with John. You and me will go on down to the parlor, girl.

Powell: John was just plum bad through and through.
Pearl: John's bad.
Powell: Yes, John's bad.
Pearl: Tell me another secret about my dad.
Powell: Oh no, your turn.
Pearl: All right, what secret shall I tell?
Powell: Where's the money hid?
Pearl: John said...
Powell: [shouting] Where's the money hid? You tell me, you little wretch, or I'll tear your arm off!

(After Powell discovers that John lied about the location of the money)

Pearl: John made a sin. John told a lie.
Powell: (forcing John forward, holding a knife to his throat, with a mad look in his eyes): Oh the Lord's a'talkin to me now. The liar is an abomination before mine eyes. [takes out his knife]
Pearl: It's in my doll. It's in my doll!
Powell: [laughs] The doll. Why sure. The last place anyone would think to look.

Rachel: What's wrong, John?
John: He ain't my Dad!
Rachel: No, and he ain't no Preacher, neither.

Cast Edit

External links Edit