Part melodrama, part horror movie, part fairy tale, Night of the Hunter unfolds like a fever dream in an American landscape both nightmarish and magical. This almost unbearably suspenseful tale -- the only solo screenplay that critic James Agee ever wrote and the only film that actor Charles Laughton (Ruggles of Redgap) ever directed -- is a cinematic experience unlike any other. Robert Mitchum gives his most indelible performance here as a psychotic preacher with "love" and "hate" tattooed on each of his hands. After charming a small-town widow into marrying him, he proceeds to terrorize her children in order to get hold of the money left to them by their dead father. The peerless Lillian Gish is moving and magnificent as the elderly woman who becomes the children's physical and spiritual guardian. Photographed by Stanley Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons) with shimmering light and deep shadows that eloquently express the story's themes of good and evil, sin and redemption, Night of the Hunter is a beautiful, startling, and unforgettable film.