The Night of the Hunter (novel)


''The Night of the Hunter'' is a
1953 Events January * January 1 – American country music singer-songwriter Hank Williams Death of Hank Williams, dies in his car age 29 from alcohol abuse and drug problems, following an undiagnosed case of Spina bifida, spina bifida occul ...
thriller novel Thriller is a genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, ca ...
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...

Davis Grubb Davis Alexander Grubb (July 23, 1919 – July 24, 1980) was an American novelist A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional noveli ...
. The book was a national bestseller and a finalist for the 1955
National Book Award The National Book Awards are a set of annual U.S. literary awards A literary award or literary prize is an award presented in recognition of a particularly lauded Literature, literary piece or body of work. It is normally presented to an author ...

Story line and development

Murderous ex-convict Harry Powell misrepresents himself as a prison chaplain upon his release from prison. Acting on a story told to him by his now-dead cellmate, "Reverend" Powell cons the cellmate's widow, Willa Harper, into marrying him in hopes that her children will tell him where their father hid the money from his last robbery. After killing their mother, he embarks on a hunt for the children, who have sensed his evil and are running from him. Grubb explores the presentation of the American South during the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning . The timing of the Great Depression varied around the world; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the l ...
. He uses
tropes Trope or tropes may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Trope (cinema) In Film, cinema, a trope is what ''The Art Direction Handbook for Film'' defines as "a universally identified image imbued with several layers of contextual meaning crea ...
of the
Southern Gothic Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction Gothic fiction, sometimes called Gothic horror in the 20th century, is a genre of literature and film that covers horror, death and at times romance. It is said to derive from the English auth ...
genre to explore issues such as social corruption and instability.

Based on

The plot was based on the true story of Harry Powers, who was hanged in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children in Quiet Dell, West Virginia.


* Harper (publisher), Harper Brothers, 1953. * Dell Publishing, 1955. #D149. * Dell Publishing, 1963. #6386. * Penguin Books, 1977. * Simon & Schuster, 1988. * Lightyear Press, 1993. *, 2005.

Screen and stage adaptations

In 1955, the book was adapted by Charles Laughton and James Agee as the film ''The Night of the Hunter (film), The Night of the Hunter.'' The film version has earned ranks in numerous movie lists and was added to the National Film Registry in 1992. Despite its critical success, ''The Night of the Hunter'' remained the only film ever directed by Laughton. Lyricist-librettist Stephen Cole and composer Claibe Richardson started working on a musical adaptation sometime in the late 1990s, releasing a concept album in 1998 through the Fynsworth Alley label. Cole wrote preliminary forms of the book and lyrics, which earned him the 2000 Kleban Award for Most Promising Librettist, while Richardson composed a score. After going through a workshop revision phase, the show was premiered at the Willow's Theatre in Concord, California, on September 24, 2004. It was directed and produced by John Bowab, and starred Brian Noonan (from the original workshop cast) as Harry Powell and Lynne Wintersteller as Willa. The show received mixed reviews, but received four awards from the Bay Area Critics Circle. The show moved on to the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2006, the last performance being on October 1. The cast included Brian Noonan, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Dee Hoty as Willa, Beth Fowler as Rachel Cooper, and others, some of whom were in the original workshops.

See also

* Lonely hearts killer



* ''Heaven & Hell to Play With: The Filming of 'The Night of the Hunter by Preston Neal Jones. New York: Limelight Editions, 2002. In this well-detailed behind-the-scenes look at the film, Jones interviewed many of the principals, including
Davis Grubb Davis Alexander Grubb (July 23, 1919 – July 24, 1980) was an American novelist A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional noveli ...
, producer Paul Gregory (producer), Paul Gregory, cinematographer Stanley Cortez, art director Hilyard Brown, and actors Robert Mitchum, Don Beddoe, and Lillian Gish. He also relied upon extensive interviews with Charles Laughton conducted by others. {{DEFAULTSORT:Night Of The Hunter Thriller novels 1953 American novels Novels by Davis Grubb American thriller novels American novels adapted into films Musicals based on novels Novels about serial killers Southern Gothic novels Novels set in West Virginia Great Depression novels Harper & Brothers books Uxoricide in fiction