If you'd asked me last Saturday afternoon when I last saw a movie I liked I wouldn't have been able to remember one. I don't think I've been in a movie theater this century. Most movies, particularly current movies, just don't much engage me. I gave up on NetFlix when I ran out of movies I wanted to see and when watching movies that I didn't enjoy started to seem like a huge waste of time.
If you'd asked me last Saturday afternoon what my all time favorite movie is I likely would have said All About Eve. If you asked me the same question Sunday morning I likely would have said The Night of the Hunter.
Turner Classic Movies on Saturday nights has a thing they call "The Essentials". Meaning movies that it is essential you watch if you want to have an appreciation of the best movies ever made. The Night of the Hunter was last Saturday's Essential.
This movie held my interest beginning to end. It's a film noir. Now considered one of the best film noir ever made. After the movie was over I had to look it up in Wikipedia. Apparently I am not the only one to have been impressed by this movie. David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick and the Coen Brothers were influenced by it. The Night of the Hunter is very David Lynchian.
When the movie was released in 1955 it was not a hit, neither critically or with the public. The director, Charles Laughton, yes, that Charles Laughton, he of Mutiny on the Bounty, was so disheartened he never directed again. Years later when the movie began playing on TV, it finally became a hit. Read the Wikipedia article to see all the various references made to The Night of the Hunter in things like the Simpsons, Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen's song, "Caution Man", Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Coen Brother's movies contain many references.
Anyway, I just loved this movie. It's black and white and beautifully photographed, set in the Great Depression, it tells a very sophisticated, very adult story. And there was a scene near the end that evoked in me something very very rare. A tear. It still haunts me. The movie I mean, not the tear.
UPDATE: Here's a Blog devoted to Charles Laughton with a lot of The Night of the Hunter info.