Fade Out – Charles Laughton

Episode 30 - Actor Charles Laughton's first and last film as director NIGHT OF THE HUNTER with special guest April Snellings.

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10 responses to “Fade Out – Charles Laughton

    1. Chris, definitely watch it! It might even make for a good focus for an episode of House of Franklinstein as there are legitimate horror elements in the film.

  1. I know it’s not one that’s typically listed for Laughton (like The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Mutiny on the Bounty) but whenever I hear his name I automatically picture Sempronius Gracchus in Spartacus.

  2. I’ve been a great fan of this film for many years & even screened it in my film history course a long time ago. It got a strong reception from the students. I don’t recall you mentioning it in the episode, but there is a short behind the scenes documentary of Laughton directing the actors. It’s fascinating.

    In case anyone is interested, BGSU is home to the Lillian and Dorothy Gish archive. It’s available for research. A number of years ago, I met Lillian Gish’s last agent when he visited our campus.

  3. This film was on the BBC a lot when I was growing up, so I saw it a few times as a teenager; of course I missed the subtext, but I did enjoy it. I reckon April is spot on when she compares Night of the Hunter to a dark fairytale, babes in the wood, Hansel and Gretel and all that. I really enjoyed your discussion and can’t wait to see it again now you’ve expanded my brain!

    April, are you reading? When you were talking about why this film wasn’t a commercial success, you said you thought, perhaps, it was something that people weren’t talking about… What would that be?

  4. I guess I was lucky, being introduced to the film ad just something directed by the actor Charles Laughton. I went in just hoping it wouldn’t be too embarrassingly bad.

    The LOVE/HATE thing started here? My favorite version of that is probably The Blues Brothers, where Jake has J,A,K,E tattooed above his knuckles, and Elwood has E,L,W,O, with O, and D on the first two fingers of his other hand.

  5. The film has often been on my watchlist (certainly while I still had TMC, I looked for it to show up), but it never worked out. Didn’t realize it had these particular qualities, so I’ll try to do better!

    1. Siskoid, definitely recommended! Please, watch it. I would be very surprised if you didn’t find a lot to appreciate in the film.

  6. I both love and hate you for doing this episode, Rob. I love you for covering one of the best American films ever made. And, I hate you because you didn’t ask me to cover it with you. Haha!

    But, my hate is assuaged (somewhat) by the extremely capable and very affable choice you made in co-host: Ms. Snellings. She brings a lot to the discussion of this film and about Charles Laughton so I am happy for her knowledge and experience as it has added to my understanding of both.

    For anyone interested, if you have already seen Night of the Hunter, check out David Gordon Green’s Undertow, starring Josh Lucas and Jamie Bell. It is an effective and beautiful homage to the older film.

  7. Rob, you mentioned not having as an in-depth background on Silent Cinema as you’d like. I strongly recommend you watching the 1980 documentary “Hollywood” that covers the silent era. James Mason is the narrator. It’s never been available on DVD, but most of the episodes are available on Youtube:

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