Archive for Night of the Hunter

Winters’ Bones

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on January 21, 2011 by dcairns

This is a prosthetic Shelley Winters, constructed by makeup effects supremo Maurice Seiderman (CITIZEN KANE, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER) for NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. The kind of thing you really don’t expect to see in a ’50s movie, and it’s so convincing you don’t realise you are seeing it. Easier to believe Shelley has an oxygen tank hidden just out of sight. I think it’s often evidence of a good film, when the crew find themselves doing unconventional things, or finding new ways to solve old problems.

Shelley never had much luck in the water, did she? Asides from the hauntingly evoked watery grave above, she suffered an aquatic heart attack in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and drowned in A PLACE IN THE SUN. I assume something bad happens to her in TENTACLES, and even in LOLITA, where her character’s death by drowning was altered by Kubrick so he wouldn’t have to film on an unconvincing studio lake, James Mason responds to her passing by taking a bath.

Seiderman is a fascinating figure. He was employed by RKO to sweep the floor in the hair and makeup department, when Welles spotted his talent and allowed him to design the old-age makeup for KANE. Seiderman invented the soft contact lens as part of his work. Later he designed Welles’ prosthetics for TOUCH OF EVIL, but his IMDb credits look painfully incomplete: even some of the films listed, he received no credit for.


Eiffel Power

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on January 20, 2011 by dcairns

A new edition of The Forgotten, over at The Daily Notebook, takes off on a tangent from what has become NIGHT OF THE HUNTER Week here on Shadowplay — a brief consideration of Charles Laughton’s only other film-directing gig, THE MAN ON THE EIFFEL TOWER.

Pour yourself a pastis (whatever that is) and enjoy.

…and you know who else…

Posted in FILM, Mythology, Painting with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2011 by dcairns

…has been looking at Charles Laughton’s NIGHT OF THE HUNTER? Only William Friedkin, around the time he was making THE EXORCIST.

Or if not, it’s a w ild coincidence.

Of course, Friedkin has talked about how the famous poster shot of Father Merrin arriving at the house in Georgetown was influenced by René Magritte’s painting The Empire of Light (above), but I think it’s that close. Maybe he used that as a cue when discussing the scene with DoP Owen Roizman, and maybe Roizman thought of Charles Laughton and Stanley Cortez’s imagery. Or maybe Friedkin saw Bernardo Bertolucci making the much more reasonable claim that Magritte’s “day for night” painting was a reference point for Vittorio Storaro’s THE SPIDER’S STRATAGEM — the thought stuck in the sausage-meat electrical storm of Friedkin’s brain, and he later “originated” it by the simple procedure of opening his yap.

Then there’s this ~

Okay, not that close, and one might fairly ask how many ways there are of shooting somebody standing over somebody else who’s lying in a bed? Actually, quite a few, and most of them are in THE EXORCIST. So much of that damn film takes place in a single bedroom… I’m convinced that’s why they cast Max Von S: one look at him reminds you that long static scenes in rooms CAN be cinematically compelling.

At any rate, these two images have so much in common viscerally that leafing through film books as a kid, I think I somehow confused or conflated the two movies, imagining some kind of NIGHT OF THE EXORCIST.

What a messed-up film that would be. For, with its horror of female sexuality and the body, THE EXORCIST is more like the film preacher Harry Powell would have made if Warners gave him the money.

The Night of the Hunter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

The Night of the Hunter (Criterion Collection)