A Hard World for Little Things

Near undeniably an allegorical American classic, the sly humor in Night of the Hunter is in realizing it’s a Universal monster movie, from the creature – in this case, Robert Mitchum portraying a preacher – to the torch-carrying mob at the end, the formula is nigh identical.

Of course, Night of the Hunter is more than an empty creature feature. Significantly so. It’s a parable, steeped in stiff Christian doctrine, and for 1955, utterly brazen in its depiction. Night of the Hunter isn’t anti-religion or anti-Christian, so much as against the people who use their beliefs to suit their own grisly motives.

Night of the Hunter makes heroes out of those who live truly Christian lives

More than many Grimm fables, Night of the Hunter takes an unrelenting, gloomy tone, but one where near every shot is worthy of being framed. It’s stunningly beautiful, and precisely planned as to suggest an unreality that’s flawlessly considered in this context. Mitchum, a masterpiece of detestable cinematic villainy, finds himself caked in shadow more often than not, with unrelenting, terrifying body language that’s never less than insanity.

Mitchum’s victims fall for his weepy preacher routine, enamored with his scripture knowledge, but so taken as to ignore his obvious, infinite evil. Night of the Hunter makes heroes out of those who live truly Christian lives, like Ben Harper (Peter Graves) who robs a bank, sacrificing his life with intent to feed starving children. Others concern themselves with keeping women chaste, and judging a newly widowed woman for not immediately finding another man. To them, the Bible is nothing but rules, demanding to be followed. To the heroic figures, it’s a way to live one’s own life, and guide others, not condemn them.

Night of the Hunter warns of false prophets, a message that seems ever more crucial today than post-WWII where the boogeyman was broadly seen as communists. Still, most fall for Mitchum’s facade, so artificially friendly as to be obvious about it, but his words are enough to convince those he wishes to manipulate – for his own cause. Night of the Hunter focuses on money to drive its story, $10,000, a sizable amount for 1955, if not enough to warrant the sheer will of Mitchum’s fight to find it. He kills, tries to kill again, and ruins his faux personality in a quest to steal from children.

Taking place in a metaphorical and shattered garden of Eden, replete with apples, Night of the Hunter gives raw evil a convincing, surreal face, and at every phase, knows how to execute that plan.


Another masterful vintage presentation on UHD sports impeccable fidelity and sharpness, sourced from a pristine print. Superlative texture belies Night of the Hunter’s age, showing the lasting value of 35mm. It’s pure, and other than chemical fades, consistently flawless. Grain replication is best-in-class.

Using Dolby Vision, Kino keeps the update nuanced, brightness crisp but not overdone, shadows dense but never crushing. Superlative gray scale enhances the depth, of which Night of the Hunter has plenty. No, Night of the Hunter doesn’t have the standard “wow” factor in its contrast, but creates eye candy in other ways more respectful to the material. It’s difficult to imagine Night of the Hunter ever looking better at home short of a major technological advance.


Kino delivers both a mono and 5.1 track, both in DTS-HD. The pair perform equally well in terms of fidelity, but the added boldness in the 5.1 remix is worth a listen. Walter Schumann’s score is utterly masterful in this update, lacking the same power. Plus, it’s respectful, staying tightly contained in the center with few exceptions.


Author Tim Lucas provides commentary on the 4K disc. In addition, Kino includes an isolated score/effects track. The Blu-ray then offers three featurettes, running about 45-minutes total, one of which includes actress Kelly Garver offering her thoughts.

The Night of the Hunter
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Endlessly allegorical, bold, and intense, Night of the Hunter dares to challenge deeply held beliefs and thoughts.

User Review
4.67 (3 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 46 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:

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