The Night of the Hunter (1955)
The Night of the Hunter is a 1955 American thriller film directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. The film is based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Davis Grubb, adapted for the screen by James Agee and Laughton. Its plot focuses on a corrupt reverend-turned-serial killer who uses his charms to woo an unsuspecting widow and her two children in an attempt to steal a fortune hidden by the woman's dead husband. The novel and film draw on the true story of Harry Powers, hanged in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children in Clarksburg, West Virginia. The film's lyric and expressionistic style sets it apart from other Hollywood films of the 1940s and 1950s, and it has influenced later directors such as David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, and the Coen brothers. In 1992, The Night of the Hunter was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in its National Film Registry.