40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Charles Laughton was best known as a proper British actor who closely worked with director Alexander Korda. In the mid-’50s, Laughton decided to try his hand at directing, making this bleak drama starring Robert Mitchum.

Mitchum plays one of the screen’s best villains, preacher Harry Powell. Powell is traveling to a small Southern town in the hopes of securing a fortune left behind by his dead former cellmate. The problem is the man’s young son is the only one who knows where the money is hidden. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game wherein Powell marries the young boy’s mother — played with peak loneliness by Shelley Winters.

This is Mitchum’s movie, and he rules over every frame. The tattoos on his knuckles denoting “love” and “hate” are just one of many contradictions in his character, leaving you questioning his unpredictable nature at every turn. Once Powell gets control of the children, the movie becomes a battle of wills leading to a haunted moonlit swim across a river into the arms of a comforting woman, played by Lillian Gish, who might be the children’s salvation.

Unfortunately for Laughton, The Night of the Hunter was a commercial failure. The endeavor made Laughton so upset he never directed again. It’s a shame, but at least we have this amazing film to act as a testament to Laughton’s genius.

Where to Watch It: Rent on Google Play, Apple, PlayStation, and YouTube.