by Robert Bell
'THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER'
5 p.m. Faulkner County Library. Free.
Like many masterworks, "The Night of the Hunter" didn't get its due when it was first released in 1955. The sole film directed by British actor Charles Laughton, it stars Robert Mitchum as the murderous phony itinerant pastor Harry Powell, who, freshly sprung from jail, pursues a tip on some hidden money from a bank robbery. He seduces a widow (played by Shelly Winters) in order to get at her children, one of whom supposedly knows the location of the loot.
That might sound like typical '50s noire thriller fare, but "Hunter" is a far stranger flick than many of its contemporaries. Darkly expressionistic and deeply weird, it was a touchstone for such filmmakers as David Lynch and the Coen brothers, and features some unnervingly psychedelic directorial touches a full 10 years before acid's impact on the culture.
It's one of Mitchum's signature roles, and if you've never seen it before, you're in for a real treat. A dark, creepy, nightmarish treat. As if that film wasn't enough Mitchum-flavored terror, the Faulkner County Library will screen the 1962 version of "Cape Fear" afterward. Enjoy.