The Night of the Hunter (novel)
Story line and development
Murderous ex-convict Harry Powell misrepresents himself as a prison chaplain upon his release from prison. Acting on a story told to him by his now-dead cellmate, "Reverend" Powell cons the cellmate's widow into marrying him in hopes that her children will tell him where their father hid the money from his last robbery. After killing their mother, Willa Harper, he embarks on a hunt for the children, who have sensed his evil and are running from him.
Grubb explores the presentation of the American South during the Great Depression. He uses tropes of the Southern Gothic genre to explore issues such as social corruption and instability. The figure of the Preacher is a symbol of the corruptive social force of religion in the American South, while the disruption of the family unit emphasises the broken sense of Southern identity after the Civil War.
- Harper Brothers, 1953.
- Dell Publishing, 1955. #D149.
- Dell Publishing, 1963. #6386.
- Penguin Books, 1977. ISBN 0-14-004426-4
- Simon & Schuster, 1988. ISBN 0-671-65278-8
- Lightyear Press, 1993. ISBN 0-89968-431-9
- Blackmask.com, 2005. ISBN 1-59654-229-2
Screen and stage adaptations
In 1955, the book was adapted by Charles Laughton and James Agee as the film The Night of the Hunter. The film version has earned ranks in numerous movie lists and was added to the National Film Registry in 1992.
Lyricist-librettist Stephen Cole and composer Claibe Richardson started working on a musical adaptation sometime in the late 1990s, releasing a concept album in 1998 through the Fynsworth Alley label. Cole wrote preliminary forms of the book and lyrics, which earned him the 2000 Kleban Award for Most Promising Librettist, while Richardson composed a score. After going through a workshop revision phase, the show was premiered at the Willow's Theatre in Concord, California, on September 24, 2004. It was directed and produced by John Bowab, and starred Brian Noonan (from the original workshop cast) as Harry Powell and Lynne Wintersteller as Willa. The show received mixed reviews, but received four awards from the Bay Area Critics Circle. The show moved on to the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2006, the last performance being on October 1. The cast included Brian Noonan, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Dee Hoty as Willa, Beth Fowler as Rachel Cooper, and others, some of whom were in the original workshops.
- West Virginia Archives and History. Harry Powers: Bluebeard of Quiet Dell. (Clarksburg Telegram, March 19, 1932)
- #2 on "Cahiers du cinema: 100 most beautiful films in the world". 2008-11-04.
- #71 on The 500 Greatest Films Of All Time - The Night of the Hunter Empire.
- "Night of the Hunter - Playbill Article". 2003-10-08.
- Hurwitt, Robert (2004-09-27). "Jerome Kern musical resurrected after 70 years". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Heaven & Hell to Play With: The Filming of 'The Night of the Hunter' by Preston Neal Jones. New York: Limelight Editions, 2002. In this well-detailed behind-the-scenes look at the film, Jones interviewed many of the principals, including Davis Grubb, producer Paul Gregory, cinematographer Stanley Cortez, art director Hilyard Brown, and actors Robert Mitchum, Donald Beddoe (who played Walt Spoon), and Lillian Gish. He also relied upon extensive interviews with Charles Laughton conducted by others.