Film: The Night Of The Hunter (1955)
“Never work with children, animals or Charles Laughton,” counselled Alfred Hitchcock after clashing with his fellow Brit on Jamaica Inn. Hitch wouldn’t have enjoyed the set of Night Of The Hunter, Laughton’s one and only film as director. But standing tall among all the sprogs and farm critters, Laughton sparked James Agee’s rural noir masterfully into life.
A making-of doc, Charles Laughton Directs ‘The Night Of The Hunter’, shows how demanding he was of a cast that boasted wildly varying levels of experience, but the result was a classic that, like many classics, went unpraised at the time. “The fact that Mr. Laughton, undertaking his first film directorial job, has not brought forth a wholly shattering picture is easy to understand,” mealy-mouthed The New York Times of its complex, controversial themes of innocence, violence and evil. Laughton, crestfallen by his flop, came close to directing again, but by then his appetites for fags, booze and food had taken too much of a toll.