Charles Laughton’s sole directorial effort, the 1955 suspense classic The Night of the Hunter is getting a modern remake from Universal Pictures, according to Variety. Amy Pascal’s (Spider-Man: Far From Home) Universal Pictures-based banner Pascal Pictures will produce along with Peter Gethers. The screenplay will be written by Matt Orton, best known for the Nazi-hunter film Operation Finale, based on Davis Grubb’s 1953 novel.
The original film is iconic, and Robert Mitchum’s portrayal of newly released prison convict Harry Powell is one of the greatest villains of the silver screen. This is the film which introduced the hand tattoos LOVE and HATE and the biblical battle fought just below the knuckles. It is the story of good and evil that goes back to when “Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low.” The inked-fingers had “veins that run straight to the soul of man.”
The book and film The Night of the Hunter were set in the American South during the Great Depression. The film focused on two children trying to protect their mother, a widow played by Shelley Winters, who married a charismatic ex-con, con man masquerading as a chaplain on the make for the $10,000 her dead husband hid after robbing a bank. The widow’s fate is one of the most frightening images ever captured on film. Laughton knew how to build suspense, and dredge up lingering payoffs.
The Oscar-winning actor, best known for ringing the bells in the title role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and films like Witness for the Prosecution, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Spartacus, also knew how to get great performances out of the child actors and seasoned veterans. “The First Lady of American Cinema” Lillian Gish, a favorite from the silent age through the golden age of film, starring in films like the controversial The Birth of a Nation and the western classic Duel in the Sun, puts in a timeless performance. The 1955 adaptation also starred Billy Chapin (The Kid From Left Field) and James Gleason (Here Comes Mr. Jordan).
There is no director attached to the project yet, and it’s still too early for casting news. The coronavirus pandemic has kept new productions under quarantine, so a production start date and release date are still unknown.