“A lesser artist than Laughton might have to busy himself through an entire career to break half the Hollywood shibboleths that Laughton shattered in this single work. As the mad, murderous zealot, Laughton cast heroic he-man Robert Mitchum. Against Tinseltown tradition, the script stayed remarkably faithful to the original novel, even though this mean killing protagonist Shelley Winters before the film was half over, and serveral years before Hitchcock was to do away with Janet Leigh in the first half of Psycho. Laughton ensured that his music composer and editor, rather than start their work after the footage was shot, participated during the entire making of the movie. With his art director and his cinematographer, Laughton created a visual style which forsook objective realism for the images of a child’s dream world. He used devices such as the iris-in which, outside of cartoons (and Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons), had not been seen since silent picture days. He employed highly effective but rarely utilized gambits, such as helicopter shots (nowadays an action movie staple), and devised images that had never been seen in the movies before, from the boy photographed through the leaf shadoes on his wall, to the murdered woman sitting in her car beneath the river.
“The end result was a film which earned wildly mixed notices from the press and a resounding veto at the box office. To some, it was artistic, to others, arty. To Hollis Alpert of Saturday Review, who made Hunter the subject of one of the magazine’s rare movie-oriented cover stories, it was one of the Ten Best of the Year, exploring the expressive qualities of the medium more than any other film of 1955… Time gave this picture a glib pan, and didn’t include it on its list of movies currently worth seeing. William K. Zinsser, critic of the New York Herald-Tribune, placed the film among his Ten Best, yet the redoubtable Bosley Crowther of the New York Times thought Laughton’s first effort a nice try that had misfired.”
—Preston Neal Jones, Heaven and Hell To Play With, 2002.Posted 3 years ago with 1 note