THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER CRITERION COLLECTION BLU RAY

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is that rarest of rare things. A great film, ran over by millions of different voices, saying roughly the same thing about it but with differing levels of punctuation. So I will cover the synopsis. A preacher, well a man pretending to be one at lease, marries a former outlaw’s widow. You see she might know something about his hidden loot. The widow’s children however smell a rat. They know things about their father and his hidden stash. However they will not be forced to speak of that stolen in a robbery. Now that is done, I will have to mention this.  The only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed. Yes. A gothic horror and Grimm fairy tale. Check.  Robert Mitchum plays cinemas greatest wolf in sheep’s clothing, a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (with tattooed knuckles oft mocked by many but bettered by none). Finally, it is a film about good and evil, innocence and the ultimate in villainy. All done.

We are not here for this though. I care about what Criterion have done to a film that had a very solid release some 10 years back from Arrow films? Well the advertised new digital transfer made from 35 mm film elements restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with MGM Studios. Is EXACTLY the same transfer as Arrow released no more then 6 years ago on a plain rerelease of that lovely slipcase one. YES. Exactly the same as the previous Blu Ray version. This is not as sad as it might sound at the beginning. It was a very good release. It lacked good extras but it looked awesome. Chiaroscuro and texture. What’s not to like!

The Extras here are a step up. The only really good extra on the Arrow release (Charles Laughton Directs The Night of the Hunter – A two-and-a-half-hour documentary on the making of the film featuring outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage). Criterion have it on the first disc but the second disc is the place to head for the great stuff. Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film is excellent. Showing our state channel is a worthy creative place. The essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow allow us to enjoy newer takes on a well walked film. New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs is the best thing on the set by a country mile.

SPECIAL FEATURES
New digital transfer made from 35 mm film elements restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with MGM Studios, with funding provided by the Film Foundation and Robert Sturm, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary featuring second-unit director Terry Sanders, film critic F. X. Feeney, archivist Robert Gitt, and author Preston Neal Jones
Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter,” a two-and-a-half-hour treasure trove of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage
New documentary featuring interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Feeney, Jones, and author Jeffrey Couchman
New video interview with Laughton biographer Simon Callow
Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show in which cast members perform a scene deleted from the film
Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film
Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb, author of the source novel
New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs
Original theatrical trailer
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: New essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow

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