The Night of the Hunter review

UK Blu-ray label goes hunting for perfection with one of cinema's all-time greats

Actor Charles Laughton only once tried his hand at directing a film and its poor reception meant that he never attempted it again – probably one of the greatest tragedies in the history of film. The Night of The Hunter – a noirish tale of sex, death and money centring on a murderous reverend hunting for stolen money – is now regarded as one of the greatest American movies ever made, inspiring the likes of the Coen brothers, David Lynch and Terrence Malick with its dark themes and expressionist imagery.

Picture: Transferred from a 35mm fine grain positive made as part of the UCLA Film Archives Restoration (with additional work done in London by James White's team at Deluxe), Arrow's AVC 1.66:1 1080p Blu-ray encode retains an authentically film-like appearance with plenty of grain throughout. Contrast levels are also spot on, painting the screen with deep, dark shadows and crisp white highlights. For a film of this vintage (it was made in 1955) it's highly impressive.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: The clarity and depth of the disc's LPCM dual-mono track indicates that just as much work was put into restoring this aspect of the film as was put into buffing up the visuals. A DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is also included, which opens up the film's score a little more but – as you'd expect – doesn't really offer too much in the way of surround sound thrills.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: While it may not come close to rivalling the plethora of bonus features that Criterion included on its 2010 US release, this Arrow Academy Blu-ray still offers up some choice extras.

The obvious highlight is Charles Laughton Directs The Night of the Hunter, a mammoth 160-minute collection of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage (including the unforgettable sight of Laughton slapping child actor Billy Chapin on the stomach to get him to register the right look of pain for a scene). Also included on the disc are an isolated LPCM dual-mono 'Music and Effects' track, an interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez and the trailer.

The accompanying booklet contains a trio of essays, contemporary reviews and information about the film's Blu-ray presentation.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: Arrow is bang on target with this handsome hi-def package for one of the greatest American movies ever made

The Night of the Hunter, Arrow Academy, Region B BD, £23 Approx