Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#52 – Night of the Hunter
Why is it here:
This is one of the badass films of all time.
Robert Mitchum delivers arguably his best and most iconic role as a murderer who poses as a preacher (let’s face it, it’s a fine line already) in order to get in tight with families. Then he destroys them. If it were not for this movie it’s a safe bet aa lot of our favorite filmmakers would be missing a vital part of their repertoire and cinema would be deprived of a great villain. It’s also sadly the only film legendary actor Charles Laughton directed and he unloads a heap of style and pulls great performances from his cast, even the kids. You can also tell everyone you see with “Love” and “Hate” tattooed on their knuckles Night of the Hunter made them such a tough guy.
So much to love here even though it’s terribly stagey and over the top in style.
Moments to savor:
Harry Powell sits on a stump and sings a hymn outside while the woman inside sings along, shotgun hand ready for blood. Rabbits are omnipresent! The preacher rides by the barn where the kids are hiding, singing his tunes. Harry Powell arrives at a home and greets a family who has no clue what a fuck he is.
Moderate. The Criterion disc alone delivers plentiful reasons for a revisit.
I’d actually love to see this remake by the likes of Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino. It’s the kind of film that would be enhanced by a remake, not unlike Mitchum’s own Cape Fear.