Episode 44. If I Could Turn Back Time: The Night of the Hunter (1955) and The Innocents (1961)


Andrea and Alex examine two cult classic films which explore the notions of time, childhood and misplaced nostalgia. Both films explore history’s dark secrets and the frailty of humanity but do either of them offer a truly happy ending?


The Night of the Hunter. Dir. Charles Laughton, 1955.

The Innocents. Dir. Jack Clayton, 1961.


The Great Depression – a history and overview.

Freddie Francis on The Innocents – The film’s cinematographer reflects on his work.

The Batcave’s 1,000 Subscriber Announcement – Got a question? Ask us! And don’t forget to subscribe to Andrea’s YouTube channel while you’re there.

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3 thoughts on “Episode 44. If I Could Turn Back Time: The Night of the Hunter (1955) and The Innocents (1961)

  1. Eric says:

    Night of the Hunter is great film to contextualize the election and the unsavory aspects of the American character. For myself and possibly others who oppose Trump, we have this primal feeling that an unscrupulous man has charmed your mom and the whole community to gladly get into bed with him- and they see you as the freak because you can’t stomach the guy. Like the kids in the film we know Rev. Powell is a bad man, but now he’s in charge of the house and we must be brave and deal with the reality of the situation. Excellent discussion as always! I’ll give a shout out to James Agee who wrote the script to Night of the Hunter, a pioneering film critic who became a great screenwriter in his own right.

  2. Katie says:

    I wasn’t sure what the Innocents was but then you said, the Turn of the Screw. I remember reading that book! I’m glad you mentioned that the author thought of it as a straight ghost story and also kept the option open that it could be ghosts when you were discussing the movie.

    One of my least favourite things with academics is when people decide that EVERYTHING has to be in peoples minds and that all supernatural stuff is just an unreliable narrator, or a dream. It can be done well, but it doesn’t have to be used for every single story that there is subtly in.

    I really liked the way you discussed it though. And while I’m firmly in the ghost camp, I enjoyed the ideas you brought up around both possibilities and even how some ideas worked in both of them.

  3. Sam Costello says:

    Great episode, as always. I didn’t have a chance to go back and rewatch either film before listening, but my recollection of Night of the Hunter—which I saw sometime in the last 10 years or so—is that the Harry Powell character feels like a sort of template for the Michael Myers/Jason Vorhees unkillable monster.

    If I recall correctly, there are number of scenes in which Powell seems like he should be dispatched or permanently obstructed, etc., but he just keeps coming after the kids no matter what seems to happen to him (until the end, of course).

    I wouldn’t know whether Carpenter, Cunningham, etc. thought about Night of the Hunter when putting their movies together, but it seems possible to draw a line from German Expressionism (an influence I hadn’t seen until you guys smartly pointed it out) to Night of the Hunter to the unkillable slashers of the 70s and 80s.

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