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We're campaigning for a Special DVD edition of "The Night of the Hunter": Join the cause!
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Monday, September 18, 2006

Would you like to see a special edition DVD of "The Night of the Hunter"? Join the campaign!!

I recently came across a thread in the IMDB message board: it was suggested there that a fine film such as Charles Laughton's only effort behind the camera, "The Night of the Hunter", would deserve to be published in DVD in a good special edition (a regular edition was already released some time ago by MGM/UA).

I think it is a very interesting idea... what about joining forces to present a huge list of petitions to a DVD publisher?

And what could that edition have? well, here's a little list for starters:
:: The film itself, from the recently restored print
:: UCLA Film Preservationist Robert Gitt's documentary "Charles Laughton Directs the Night of the Hunter"(made from deleted and filmed-on-the-set rushes)
:: Simon Callow's 1987 documentary about Laughton (a Yorkshire TV-ITV production)
:: Alternate soundtracks with comments about the film (by surviving members of Cast and Crew, or experts like Simon Callow, Preston Neal Jones or Robert Gitt)
:: Even though it has already been released in CD format maybe it would be a good idea to include the soundtrack with Laughton's narration as originally released.
::... And what about Walter Schumann's score by itself?
:: Other rushes not included in Robert Gitt's documentary
:: Stills from the film
:: Subtitles would also be appreciated (and make the DVD more marketable, ahem)
:: Etc, etc, etc... These are only but a few suggestions, but feel free to add other ideas.

Just imagine your dream DVD edition of "The Night of the Hunter"... Just imagine we can get it, if we ask for it: nobody else is going to do it for us, if we don't.

You can now, if you want to, send your petition

Gloria (playing Capità Enciam)

This is no idle petition... if we succeed, we can try and ask for more. Fellow Laughtonian Pierre Bellemare suggested that future campaigns could be aimed to ask for release of old recordings by Laughton, like "The Storyteller" or his adaptation of Shaw, "Don Juan in Hell" (the recent CD release by Deutsche Grammophon of a Charles Laughton/Ronald Colman Dickens recording suggests that such items have a public)... I would personally add to the list a re-masterized release of the old programmes Laughton did for Norman Corwin: a true delicatessen


Gloria said...

Hi Maverick,

I'll add you to the list of petitioners.

I'm leaning on the hope that we'll see someday the DVD the film deserves ;)

Anonymous said...

I am the niece of Davis Grubb and recently came into the rights for much of my uncle's work. Rest assured I will do what ever I can to re-issue Hunter on DVD and am interested in suggestions.

Gloria said...

Hi, Hunter's Niece... please excuse my tardiness, but I was a bit akward at managing the blog's preferences.
Your words are very appreciated: let's hope the publication of the DVD is achieved through joining efforts ;)

DavidEhrenstein said...

A couple of years back I saw a presentation of about an hour's worth of the rushes for Night of the Hunter at UCLA. To say it was an eye-opener is putting it mildly. In the scene of the wedding night we saw the master shot of Shelley Winters before the mirror, but when the time came for the close-upWinters wasn't there. We hear, and partially see, Laughton cueing Muitchum by reading Winter's lines to him. Mitchum reads his line and then Laughtons says "OK Mitch we're still rolling do it again only say the second part faster." Mitchum does precisely as he's told. The rapport between the tw of them is palpable.

Another great moment is Laughton directing the kids in the scene in the cellar. Little Sally Jane Bruce has to respond to an off-screen sound cue then turn and come down off the pil of coal she's standing on. She has a great deal of difficulty with this as, being 5, her motors skills haven't quite kicked in. Laughton is very patient with her and she clearly adores him. When she completes the take correctly she says "Was that OK? This acting is HARD!"

In my estimation The Night of the Hunter is the greatest of all American films.

Gloria said...

David, thanks again for your comments on your viewing of surviving rushes of "The Night of the Hunter". The anecdote of Sally jane Bruce is charming and points again against the plausibility of the "Laughton hated directing children" belief... One imagines that directing a child as small as Sally Jane -children being children- must have been difficult, but this is a good sample that Laughton behaved very civilly with his kid actors.

I always have the impression that some film historians have been too prone, in the past, to swallow any "dark legend" about Laughton: due to the blind adherence to auteriste theories, laughton has paid dear his troubles in working with Hitchcock and Sternberg, who left hostile accounts of their joint work... So it is kind of funny that some auteriste critics and historians have come to vindicate Laughton now, because, well, after all, he was a director once (The bane of auterisme is that Ed Wood's contribution to movie history seems more highly regarded than that of the best film actors)

According to the majority of sources, there was a great entente between Mitchum and Laughton, and Preston neal Jones' book also points at a good working atmosphere with the rest of the cast: having suffered, as an actor, the orders of uncomprehending directors, Laughton was well aware that his cast was sensible material that had to be directed with care.

BTW, may I add your name to the list of Bold Petitionnaires?

DavidEhrenstein said...

You most certainly may.

Another great moment in the rushes was a scene with Shelley Winters where Laughton says "Now Shelley I want you to pray, REALLY PRAY!" -- and she suddenly starts speakign a Hebrew prayer!

The rapport between Mitchum and laughton was absolute. Mitchum realy understood what Laighton was doing and trusted him. Shelley Winters was taking acting classes from Laughton and worshipped him.

Mitchum is a fascinating character. In Michel Ciment's book on Losey, Losey (who directed him in Secret Ceremony) says that Mitchum was an intellectual who wrote poetry but didn't want people to know he wrote poetry. He says Mitchum was very kind to Mia Farrow who became quite upset when the divorce papers from Sinatra were served to her on the set.

Barbara Steele, who produced War and Remembrance also tels me how wonderfully professional Mitchum was -- and a fascinating man to boot.

Gloria said...

Hi David, your name has been added to the list ;)

It is interesting (and bearing in mind Hitchcock motto that "you can't direct Children, animals and Charles Laughton"), how Laughton suceeded in directing, and had a fine rapport, with the actors in NOTH's cast, and even more bearing in mind that they were so diverse in age, personality and acting schools/styles.

Mitchum, who regarded much of his work in films as "being pounded to death by gorillas", certainly responded as an actor under an appreciative director like Laughton. In friendly environment he seemed able to drop his crusty bad boy public persona.

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog and have enjoyed reading it thus far. I stumbled across the link and had to check it out, as I do anyhing Laughton related, the man will always be a personal favorite of mine.

In the early '70s, I had to have been eleven at the time, I was switching channels to find something to watch, and stopped on a black and white movie, where children were struggling to get away from a bad guy. I was immediately pulled in to the story and watched the rest of the film. I enjoyed it and assumed that in the not too distant future it would repeated and I would see it in it's entirety. I never knew the title, nor did I see it again, until..

Decades later, my daughter is in college, a double major, one being film studies comes home to tell me about the film shown in class that day, Night of the Hunter directed by, Charles Laughton. Knowing her mother was a fan of old movies and a fan of Laughton she was surprised to hear that I'd never known he'd directed a film, and that the title was one I was unfamiliar with.

Later that week she came home having bought a dvd of Night of the Hunter as a surprise and we sat down to watch it together. I was surprised and thrilled to recognize after only a few moments that this was "the" movie that had made such a big impression on me as a child. I relayed my recollections to her, and she told me about Laughton and The Epic That Never Was (we'd both enjoyed I, Claudius on PBS with Derek Jacobi in the lead role).

Night of the Hunter is a true film classic and deserves a special edition DVD, and I would be happy to participate in any effort to help bring that to fruition. Though many others do rank the film as a classic, it has never gotten the recognition that it truly deserves.

Thanks for this blog, btw. :)

Warwick, RI

Gloria said...

Mares, thanks so much for your story... in fact, it mirrors the experience of many NOTH fans (not me, though, I discovered the film in adult age)... Yes, it is great to find again/anew a movie which impressed one at an early age.

Glad to learn that both you and your daughter are fascinated by it, too! Onviously she learned at home to love good films! ;D

I'll add you to the list in the next update ;)

Anonymous said...

Put me down.

Unknown said...

Please add my name to the petition. It's astounding that "Charles Laughton Directs The Night Of The Hunter" isn't available to the general public. I'm dying to see it.

Anonymous said...

Please add my name to your petition. NOTH deserves a special edition with the documentary footage and a decent commentary included. Paul B.

Anonymous said...

Ok, put me down. Thanks for commenting on my own blog post on this film.

Anonymous said...

It's always a pleasure to read your blog. Such devotion to an artist is so rare. Your idea for a special edition of NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is excellent. Seeing the documentary is one of my priorities.
Please add to me to your petition.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely yes, from my perspective. This film has the essential ingredients of a true classic that deserves the best treatment and the widest distribution - excellent plot, great characters and some of the most memorable and truly magical scenes and images in movie history.

Anonymous said...


Professional Tourist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gloria said...

Thanks for the great news, Professional Tourist!