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Awesome / The Night of the Hunter

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  • John helps his sister escape from the cellar by bringing down a shelf over Powell's head.
    • He then has enough presence of mind, when Uncle Birdie fails them, to get Pearl to the boat and escape down river.
  • When Powell first shows up at Rachel Cooper's farm looking for John and Pearl, he gives her a fake sob story and starts to pull the same "good vs. evil" performance with his hands that he used to win over Willa and the Spoons. Rachel listens to him impassively - and calmly picks some holes in his story, leaving him to scramble for excuses - before bringing out John and Pearl. Once John confirms for her that Powell is a liar, she reveals in an extremely epic fashion that she wasn't buying his bullshit for a second.
    John: He ain't my dad.
    Rachel: No. And he ain't no preacher, neither!
    • It gets even better in that same scene when Powell chases John under the porch trying to get the doll from him. Rachel gets her shotgun, points it at him, prods him in the back with the barrel to get his attention, and makes it clear she is fully prepared to kill him if he doesn't get off her property. The look on Powell's face when he realizes that not only does Rachel see through him, but that she absolutely will not let him have his way, is priceless, especially after watching that Smug Snake fool almost everyone else in the movie so far.
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    • She even outsings him. When Powell starts singing his Leitmotif "Leaning... leaning...", she starts singing in defiance "Lean on Jesus, lean on Jesus...", all while in a rocking chair armed with a shotgun.
    • The framing of the scene itself is this, just look at it. Both characters are in deep shadow, but while Harry is partly illuminated by a streetlight, symbolizing his two-faced nature, Rachel is perfectly framed by a light behind her so that she appears to be in the center of a halo, symbolizing that she is an "avenging angel" protecting the children. Stanley Cortez, the cinematographer, said that Laughton was one of only two directors he'd worked with who truly understood light. Who was the other? The legendary Orson Welles.


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