ROBERT MITCHUM is undeniable in the bad-ass department, but he really meets his match in the slight frame of LILLIAN GISH. There’s something to be said about maternal instincts and the powers that they hold. GISH, although portraying a God-fearing lady, subtlety conveys a “DO NOT FUCK WITH ME, OR THESE CHILDREN!” sentiment with a cock of her eyes upon meeting MITCHUM on her porch. The scene in which she holds an all-night vigil in her rocker with a shotgun, while Powell is outside singing, and she finishes the chorus to the ditty, is the first sign of peace this tense film allows.
- Mrs. Cooper surrounded by the chorus of disembodied kids heads in the opening sequence
- Preacher Powell’s explanation for the tattoos on his hands
- SHELLEY WINTERS’ watery grave scene in the car at the bottom of the lake
- John & Pearl barely escaping Powell on the basement steps (Why isn’t this movie credited for initiating that horror-flick staple?)
- The lynch-mob scene (not unlike those featured on THE SIMPSONS) that forms outside of the courthouse