Showing posts with label Shelley Winters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shelley Winters. Show all posts

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Night of the Hunter



1955’s The Night of the Hunter was the first and sadly last film to be directed by famed theatre and screen actor Charles Laughton. Though panned by audiences and critics on its theatrical release, the film has grown in statue over the years and is now widely regarded as a great work. Featuring expressionistic touches and unsettling themes, the film stands apart from the safer, noir tinted thrillers of its day. The plot features a villain so wicked that he scared me, an adult used to modern horror, nearly sixty years after he first appeared.

Robert Mitchum plays Reverend Harry Powell; a preacher turned serial killer who learns of a hidden fortune. While in prison on a minor charge, Powell shares a cell with Ben Harper (Peter Graves), a man serving a long sentence for robbery and murder. Before his arrest, Harper was able to hide his loot of $10,000, telling his children but no one else where the money was. Powell is able to track down the fatherless family and attempts to get the secret from the children while hiding his intent behind his squeaky clean, ministerial front.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Winchester '73



Winchester ’73 was the first in a string of successful Westerns to be directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart. Stewart, who was worried about his career following a number of post war flops, decided he needed to branch out as an actor and jumped at the role of Lin McAdam in this story of one man’s search for his gun. Audiences were initially surprised at the casting but Stewart went on to have a successful career in Westerns alongside the dramas and thrillers for which he is better known. McAdam (Stewart) enters Dodge City with his friend High Spade (Millard Mitchell) on the eve of a Centenary Rifle Shoot Competition. His main rival for a once in a lifetime prize of a priceless Winchester ’73 rifle is the outlaw ‘Dutch Henry’ Brown (Stephen McNally) and it soon becomes obvious that the two have history. McAdam wins the rifle but it’s stolen by Dutch and passes through several hands before the two can square off again to decide once and for all who should own the precious gun.

With a plot that goes back and forth from interesting to really boring and some incredibly clich├ęd and reductive dialogue, Winchester ’73 runs the risk of being just another Western. The poor generalising of Native Americans and stereotypical female character only chalks up marks in its negative column but there is something about the movie which gives it a spark. I personally think that spark is the gun. I have no interest in firearms and have never held a real one, let alone shot one but the film turns the gun into something else. It isn’t a gun, it’s a symbol. It’s a symbol of masculinity, success and triumph and every male character in the movie wants it.