Although the majority of Night of the Hunter was filmed in San Fernando, CA, a few aerial shots were filmed of the landscape in Moundsville, WV. Although actor Robert Mitchum initially expressed interest in filming most of the movie in Appalachia, budget constraints ultimately prohibited this from taking place. Based on the 1953 novel by Moundsville native Chris Grubb, both book and film feature a distinctly Appalachian backdrop for their setting, however. The plot begins as two horrified children witness their father’s arrest at their isolated farmhouse. Although the film implies that the money has been stolen in the interest of redistributing it to poverty stricken families across the region (forming the semblance of an Appalachian Robin Hood), the father is nonetheless sentenced to prison, where he is soon murdered by the film’s antagonist Harry Powell (Mitchum). Powell soon finds his way out of prison and, after the marrying the widow of the man he killed while disguised as a preacher, proceeds to terrorize the children in search of the money their biological father stole.
Night of the Hunter begins with the tale of the wolf masquerading in sheep’s clothing, a parable that emphasizes the film’s warning against deceptive appearances while using imagery embedded in the rural setting to do so. Presenting a portrayal of Appalachia bathed in both a haunting darkness and a contrasting ethereal light, the shadows that visually adorn the film form an illustration of the moral ambiguity present in the narrative’s authority figures. The children’s biological father, while operating in the interest of his family, steals a large sum of money in an act that leads to his imprisonment and ostracization from the rural community. Inversely, Harry Powell, assumes the deceiving guise of a morally conscious preacher to exploit the family he attaches himself to. The soundtrack audibly features children singing at several points, a haunting touch that also emphasizes the tension of discerning who to trust in an isolated community. Night of the Hunter forms a distinctly Appalachian world where its youthful protagonists learn that their authority figures are as fluid as the waters of the Ohio river they traverse – a world where preachers can also be killers and thieves may be heroes.
 “Filming of Night of the Hunter.” Moundsville Daily Echo, http://www.wvculture.org/history/entertainment/nightofthehunter.html
 “The Night of The Hunter.” The Strand Theater, https://www.strandtheatrewv.com/events-1/the-night-of-the-hunter
 “Behind the Camera on The Night of the Hunter.” TCM, http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/191073%7C0/Behind-the-Camera-The-Night-of-the-Hunter.html