Film Review: A Classic with a Conscience

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (on DVD and Blu-Ray; Criterion Collection)

| November-December 2010

Made in 1955, this dreamily expressionistic thriller about a murderous, money-hungry “preacher” (Robert Mitchum) and his preteen prey has been available on DVD for a decade, but only in a version whose square-shaped images butcher the movie’s alternately shadowy and shimmering cinematography. This new edition restores the film’s proper dimensions, paying apt tribute to a classic whose elemental battle between love and hate has famously been cited in everything from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear. Less often acknowledged is the fact that Hunter issues the American cinema’s hardest-hitting defense of victimized children.