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The Night of the Hunter, a classic suspense novel written by Davis Grubb in 1953, was made into a movie in 1955. The story, about a demonic preacher who menaces two young children in hopes of extracting the secret of their father’s ill-gotten wealth, is set in and near Grubb’s native Moundsville. It was the only movie directed by actor Charles Laughton, from a screenplay by Laughton and James Agee. The black-and-white film starred Robert Mitchum as a serial killer preacher, Shelley Winters as an unfortunate widow, and silent film star Lillian Gish. Most of the movie was shot on set in California, with locations filmed on the Ohio River in the Northern Panhandle. Mitchum gives what is often considered his best performance as the preacher. The film was included in the Library of Congress’s list of 100 best American films. A made-for-television version of Night of the Hunter was produced in 1991.

This Article was written by Merle Moore

Last Revised on October 21, 2010

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Pickard, Roy. The Oscar Movies. New York: Facts on File, 1994.

Grubb, Davis. Interviews by author. 1977-80.

Cite This Article

Moore, Merle "The Night of the Hunter." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 October 2010. Web. 17 July 2024.


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