The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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A young boy stands like Peter Pan, hands on his hips against the pale background of his bedroom wall.  A light pours through the window before him, casting him brightly despite the darkness in the room.  The intersecting beams of the window pane cast a skewed cross across him, this distorted cross moving downward to the right against the wall.  Suddenly, a large shadow steps into the frame, a personage of darkness that steals most of the light in the room.  The boy is now cast in darkness.  Here we have a filmic sequence derived from an appeal to the literature of images, a distorted religiosity beckoning the arrival of a diabolical presence.  We have a moving picture demonstrating the shrouding of innocence by the waves of a harsh world, a world frustratingly characterized, as we will later learn, by abusers of power and manipulators of morality.  Such flattery and gamesmanship is brought more into the light, as it were, when the light recedes into nighttime.

Not to mention, it’s very scary.

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Kane the Man

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Charles Foster Kane walks through the threshold of the room that was once occupied by his beautiful wife—a shrine to her celebrity, a celebrity that was as empty as it was critically panned—but now stands wrecked and uninhabited.  Through his own machinations, he had made that woman who she was; not only was her fame a product of his intrusion, but so, also, was her marriage to him.  For years they had sat on opposite sides of the vast hall, she with her jigsaw puzzles on the floor, he in his throne-like master chairs, looking at the gargantuan fireplace before him.  Were there ever two more isolated activities than those?  Now, that void had been finally realized, and she had left him—for once, a decision based on her own free will.  His behavior had brought about her departure, and he recognized his role in it.  But, he would not be undone.  He had built that shrine, he would tear it down.  And so he had.  And now, behind him, the bedroom lays a shambles: statues, trophies, linens and furniture broken, torn and scattered throughout the room. Continue reading

The Story of Citizen Kane: William Randolph Hearst and the Kane Controversy

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The story of Citizen Kane as already written in this blog—the story of Orson Welles, the Mercury Theatre, Gregg Toland, RKO Pictures, and Herman Mankiewicz—is all well and good; but the story has far more significance when examined from a different perspective.  Imagine, for a moment, that all those players about whom I wrote in my previous post—Orson Welles, the Mercury Theatre, Gregg Toland, RKO Pictures, and Herman Mankiewicz—are the “good guys”, the protagonists, in this story about the movie’s production.  Well, a good story always has a bad guy. Continue reading