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92 min.
Charles Laughton
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Film-Noir
Rating *
Votes *
13.5% (1:7)
* View IMDb information

Top comments

  1. ckane7's avatar


    I'll never ever be able to understand the unremittingly harsh backlash this movie receives.
    Take a movie like "Interstellar" with such nauseatingly lachrymose lines of dialogue like: "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space," and everyone ejaculates semen buckshot in their pants and never questions its authenticity but take a movie with some of the most stark and poetic photography ever and some of the most unforgettable scenes and characters and everyone thumbs their noses at it like they have some kind of axe to grind.
    Truly, truly disheartening...
    2 years 9 months ago
  2. Gershwin's avatar


    Well, I just watched it, loved the cinematography, but didn't see why anyone would like the story and the acting (except for Robert Mitchum's, which was great). So I read a few reviews, and I stumbled upon Ebert's review, in which he stated you should regard this movie as a kind of a nightmare, not as an attempt to represent a realistic, existing world.

    An interesting point of view, which makes the plot much more agreeable. So, for now: 7/10, but I should watch again to make sure.
    7 years 8 months ago
  3. Lumen's avatar


    A lot of mixed reviews about this movie. I personally love this movie for many reasons. The first time I saw it I was almost alone in an old small cinema in Toulouse. I think it set the mood right. The place could have been part of the film. There might be some spoilers...
    What makes the movie so strong for me is basically the photography, the wonderfull shots, surprising angles, use of light and shadows... The decors are amazing, an ode to (the then already very dated) German expressionists (Murnau, Wiene, Lang...). Some moments are genuinly brilliant: the scary looking love bed, that soon becomes a death bed, the whole enchanting river that Tim Burton would love too much. Details such as the children filmed through a spider web (same kind of shot in Ivan's childhood), the frog and other hunting (or guarding?) animals mixed with a couple of cute bunnies. The appearance of Pearl, who looks more like her rag doll than a real child keeps with her the biggest treasure.
    Most criticism seems to be about the acting. While all forms of art have many equally valid genres and standards, the art of acting only seems to have one: realism. And I completely agree that if we expect realistic acting, this movie is terrible. But I think our expectations are more to blame than the film. The acting fits very well in the tradition of, once again, German expressionism. Furthermore, they all seem more dreamlike than we are used to in cinema. The characters are both ridiculous and nightmarish, and nightmares have nothing to do with reality (Mitchum is anyway too good an actor to have such a strange 'off performance' if he didn't do it on purpose).
    I think he does a wonderful job, his stiff body seems like a machine that is out of control. His voice that will haunt you, "chiillllldren" and his hunting song "leaning on Jesus" combined with his shadow/silhouette play make him really scary. The switchblade game, the mixing up with the left and right hand when he tries to tell the story once more, the scene just before the murder where he keeps his head tilted to be perfectly two-faced. I know it is all very obvious, but I still think it is incredibly good.
    In many ways I have to agree that the movie is dated, profanity and stuff don't shock anybody anymore, and the morality of protecting the children, the fight of good and evil, and watch out for charming speakers are even too much for my grandmother. One thing that did shock me was the song the town kids sang to John and Pearl after the execution of their father "hing-hang-hung". So cruel!
    Finally this film offers a curious experience of Americana, horror, comedy, Capra-esque sentimentality and redemption (yuck). I was raised with tales and fables. This film is a wonderful extension!
    2 years 1 month ago
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In 29 official lists

  1. This movie ranks #2 in Cahiers du cinéma 100
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    Cahiers du cinéma 100

  2. This movie ranks #6 in Roger Ebert: the great movies
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  3. This movie ranks #14 in Spike Lee's Essential Film List
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  4. This movie ranks #18 in Film-noir
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  5. This movie ranks #34 in AFI's 100 years...100 thrills
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  6. This movie ranks #38 in Taschen 100 All-time favorite movies
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  7. This movie ranks #39 in Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films
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  8. This movie ranks #39 in François Truffaut's The Films of My Life
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  9. This movie ranks #43 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
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  10. This movie ranks #53 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List
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  11. This movie ranks #60 in Best Of Rotten Tomatoes
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  12. This movie ranks #70 in They Shoot Zombies, Don't They?
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  13. This movie ranks #71 in Empire 500
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  14. This movie ranks #90 in National Film Registry
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    National Film Registry

  15. This movie ranks #91 in 500 Essential Cult Movies
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    500 Essential Cult Movies

  16. This movie ranks #93 in TSPDT 1000 Noir Films
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    TSPDT 1000 Noir Films

  17. This movie ranks #93 in TSPDT 100 Essential Noir Films
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  18. This movie ranks #113 in Fantasy Cinema: Impossible Worlds on Screen
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  19. This movie ranks #173 in 366 Weird Movies (Certified Weird)
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  20. This movie ranks #221 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
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  21. This movie ranks #244 in The British Film Institute: 360 Classics
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  22. This movie ranks #292 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
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  23. This movie ranks #363 in 501 Must See Movies
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  24. This movie ranks #389 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
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  25. This movie ranks #504 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
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  26. This movie ranks #608 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
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  27. This movie ranks #621 in The Criterion Collection
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  28. This movie ranks #631 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
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  29. This movie ranks #653 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
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