Dir: Charles Laughton | Scr: James Agee | Novel: Davis Grubb | Ph: Stanley Cortez | Prod: Paul Gregory | Mus: Walter Schumann | Ed: Robert Golden | AD: Hilyard Brown | Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Peter Graves, Don Beddoe, Billy Chapin, Sally Jane Bruce, Gloria Castillo
Hoping to get his hands on to the $10,000 stolen by her just executed bank robber husband, a travelling preacher with a sideline in theft and murder marries a grieving young widow. However, when he discovers that it is her children and not her that knows of its whereabouts, he murders her so as to concentrate his efforts upon them. Never the less, they are a hardy pair, and take to the river in order to escape him, eventually coming across a kindly old woman who takes them in. But, with the sociopathic sermoniser still in hot pursuit, it is far too early yet for thoughts of a happy ending. Mixing dreamlike southern gothic horror with strangely cartoonish black comedy, brought to life with brilliantly imaginative mise en scène and unsettling high contrast black & white photography, renowned actor Charles Laughton’s sole directing effort is generally quite wonderful. However, the film’s overtly moralistic ending takes the shine off somewhat.