Night of the Hunter


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GRUBB, Davis. The Night of the Hunter. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953. Octavo, original half black cloth, original dust jacket.

First trade edition of Davis Grubb's first novel, signed by him, a compelling work that "still has the power to flood your 21st-century dreams with terror," basis for the landmark 1955 film noir, the only film directed by actor Charles Laughton, from a screenplay by James Agee and starring Robert Mitchum, in the original dust jacket.

On publication in 1953, the New York Times called Night of the Hunter, based on a true story, "'brilliant… a work of beauty and power and astonishing verbal magic.' To the New York Herald-Tribune, Hunter was 'part idyll, part nightmare'… told 'with subtle lyricism and a compelling sense of evil'" (Jones, Heaven and Hell to Play With, 16). Writer Richard Price considers it "the gold standard of Southern Noir. Grubb's unforgettably charismatic and psychopathic villain, Harry Powell, still has the power to flood your 21st-century dreams with terror." The classic 1955 film noir adaptation, with a screenplay by James Agee, was the first and only film directed by actor Charles Laughton. Before filming they asked Grubb, trained as an artist, "to provide sketches of the characters and scenarios in his book as he saw them… Grubb produced well over 100 sketches, from which Agee and Laughton constructed their scenario, wrote the screenplay and cast the film" (Johnson, Dark Page II, 860). Hunter remains "a classic crime story related as a dark, almost fantastic parable of innocence imperiled. Robert Mitchum's memorable portrayal of Powell as a charismatic, psychotic drifter… is taken almost directly from Grubb's characterization" (Barron, Fantasy and Horror 6-153). First trade edition, first issue: copyright page with code "I-C" indicating publication September 1953. First issue dust jacket with "Advance Comments" on rear panel; "printer's codes of 9927, 9928 and 4170 appear at the bottom of the front flap, rear flap and rear panel, respectively" (Johnson, Dark Page II, 86). Signed trade editions are preferred over the more common limited edition of 1000 copies signed on a tipped-in page with tissue dust jacket, issued earlier the same year. Embossed owner stamp and inkstamp.

Book fine; light edge-wear, faint toning to spine of price-clipped near-fine dust jacket.

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