A film often regarded as a classic amongst Gothic black and white thrillers is Charles Laughton’s 1955 film masterpiece Night of the Hunter. However, Universal made the announcement that the film will be remade in modern times, with Peter Gethers and Amy Pascal producing the project. Matt Orton, who wrote the screenplay for Operation Finale, will be penning the remake’s script.
Based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Davis Grubb, Night of the Hunter centers around a misogynistic religious fanatic named Harry Powell. Reverend Powell recently marries a widow who’s husband was hiding a ton of money and, wanting the wealth for himself, Powell kills the widow in order to inherit the fortune for himself. However, he faces another obstacle to that money: the widow’s children. Being very aware of their father’s wealth, the kids must escape from Powell’s clutches and make their away across Ohio to save themselves.
Night of the Hunter was very controversial at the time for its intensity, especially being centered around a religious man wanting to murder innocent children. Since then, it has been revered as a classic for its gripping story, excellent use of black and white cinematography, and incredible performance of Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell. Mitchum’s iconic “love and hate” speech has also been referenced in a number of movies, most notably Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.
Many would claim that a modern day remake of this film would not work, as the gothic mood is intrinsically tied to the original’s 1930s period-piece setting. Still, a remake could bring new light to the original film as, despite its influence, it isn’t well known overall. Very little has been confirmed regarding who’s attached to the film outside of the writer and producers. With this in mind, Night of the Hunter could hold better for Universal if given the right director.