Film: The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Most recent project: Laughton never directed another film until his death in 1962
Charles Laughton was a lauded actor for years before and after The Night of the Hunter made people skip church a couple Sundays in 1955. Based on Davis Grubb's 1953 novel of the same name, the film tells the story of a reverend with a killer streak (literally), who one night decides to loot a widow and her children of her dead husband's fortune. Hilarity most definitely does not ensue. Shot in an atmopsheric style that elevated it above the others of its era, it's very likely Night of the Hunter is on your favorite director's greatest movies' list. Showcasing Laughton's magnificent directing is the chilling peformance he draws from Robert Mitchum who plays the Reverend Harry Powell.
A box office failure at the time of its original release, Laughton's film has undoubtedly gained its due recognition. Its seriously creepy, in case you thought nothing made in the '50s could make you anxiouly scratch the back of your hands. Charles Laughton would never direct again before his death in 1962, but his legacy is firmly in place in Hollywood history, making a timeless movie that requires you leave the door cracked just a little bit.