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Filming of Night of the Hunter


Moundsville Daily Echo
August 10, 1954

'Hunter’ Stars Here Today?

The movie invasion may be on!

And it may be only a false alarm.

But there are several persons ready to make oath it was Robert Mitchum who walked into Beam’s downtown drugstore this morning and tried to secure some film for his Polaroid camera. And others insist his beauteous blonde companion was none other than Ann Baxter.

Their big shiny automobile, complete with uniformed chauffeur, was parked for a time near the front of the Kreglow hotel, and an Echo staff member inquired whether the pair were not here in connection with a announced start in mid-August of filming of Davis Grubb’s book, “Night of the Hunter.” The inquiry was met rather evasively and before it could be pressed closer the car glided away from the curb, apparently headed downriver with its occupants.

It all tied in, though.

Producer Paul Gregory announced last spring, after buying the movie rights to the former Moundsville resident’s book, that her and Charles Laughton planned to produce the picture in the local area, and said shooting would start about the middle of August.

And some time later it was made known that Mitchum, Miss Baxter, Agnes Moorhead and several others had been signed for parts in the spine-chilling story.

The word spread fast and soon of calls inquiring whether the of calls inquiring whether the wo whole cast for the movie hadn’t been here this morning [sic]. The various starts were reported seen at several points in the community but – well, you know how those stories grow.

So all we’re reporting now is just what we have been able to dig up. And all of this was without official confirmation at pres-time, anyhow.


Moundsville Daily Echo
August 11, 1954

Movie Agent Looking For ‘Hunter’ Scenes On River

Somebody must have been seeing things.

Yet, it was a big car – and it did have something to do with “Night of the Hunter”, the book Paul Gregory and Charles Laughton are going to make into a movie.

But the occupant wasn’t Robert Mitchum – it was Frank Parmenter, business manager for Paul Gregory Associates, as reported in Tuesday’s Echo, who was conferring with local sources on the possibility of shooting some background material here for the picture coming out of Davis Grubb’s best-selling novel, laid in the river country hereabouts.

Parmenter, according to Chamber of Commerce Secretary T. W. Keffer, was staying at a Pittsburgh hotel and came to Moundsville yesterday in a rented car with uniformed driver to look over the countryside.

Talked with Warden

He conferred with Warden O. J. Skeen of the state penitentiary, which figures in the book, and arranged to take what shots of the institution may be necessary. Now he is on the hunt of a helicopiter to take some air views of the countryside.

Stars Aren’t Coming

It appeared unlikely even that the stars of the picture might be brought onto location here, though this possibility was not wholly ruled out. Much of the film, according to Parmenter, will be made in California, with local settings dubbed in where needed.

But you still could encounter a few people today who held steadfastly to the belief that it was Robert Mitchum who visited the community yesterday.

And they might be right. At least, nobody has proved definitely yet that he wasn’t here.


Moundsville Daily Echo
August 23, 1954

Want Local Girl and Boy For “Hunter” Film Here

At 2:30 this afternoon, Chamber of Commerce issued a call for a local boy and girl to appear in certain scenes of “Night of the Hunter” that will be filmed here in the next few days. Mr. Parmenter, business manager of Gregory associates, contacted Chamber Secretary T. W. Keffer, saying he can use:

A girl 46 inches tall, with light brown hair and curls reaching the shoulders;

A boy 54 inches tall with brown hair.

Parents interested are invited to bring their children to the front porch of the Court House, tomorrow, Tuesday afternoon at 3 o’clock.

Mr. Keffer stressed that these youngsters are wanted only for the scenes that will be shot locally, and parents should not get excited that their children will be taken to the West C[oa]st.

Mr. Parmenter said that he himself planned to spend the next couple of days on a powerboat surveying the shoreline of the river.

Hunter Film Cameramen Due In City

Filming of local scenes to be included in the movie based upon the novel, “Night of the Hunter,” from the pen of Davis Grubb, formerly of Moundsville, was scheduled to get started here late today.

T. W. Keffer, secretary of Moundsville Chamber of Commerce, said this morning he had received word from Frank Parmenter, business manager of Gregory Associates, linked in the motion picture project, saying that Parmenter and at least three cameramen, along with equipment and supplies, would arrive in Moundsville today.

Parmenter, who was here on a recent visit, did not indicate that any film personnel expected to be linked with the production, would accompany the party here.

Keffer said he was advised contacts had been made with Warden Orel J. Skeen to permit filing of some shots about the prison, and possibly some down-river scenes.

The current jaunt by the motion picture promoters was expected to last about a week, and that more cameramen might come along in a day or two.


Moundsville Daily Echo
August 26, 1954

Children Chosen For Film Roles

It has been revealed that John Crouch of Virginia street, Moundsville, and Lois Jean Kennedy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Kennedy of Shadyside, have been selected as doubles for Billy Chaffin and Sally Jane Bruce, in the enactment of the roles of the children John and Pearl, in Davis Grubb’s “The Night of the Hunter.” Although the major portion of the film will be done on the West Coast, the two local and near-local children have been chosen to play the parts in scenes shot locally. Although the shooting was expected to begin today, the local Chamber of Commerce office said that the weather would probably prevent it.

It was said that Lois Jean has had some film experience previously.

Movie Makers In Rural Scenes

Maj. Luther Crawford of the National Guard, reported that as he was driving along the Lynn Camp road today, the movie people (here to film some scenes for “Night of the Hunter”) were taking pictures of a church and some scenery in that vicinity.


Moundsville Daily Echo
August 27, 1954

Filming Of Hunter Background Scenes Started Here Today

After considerable last minute red-tape wrestling, and with the cooperation of a number of local people and assistance from the Chamber of Commerce, actual shooting of background scenes for the forthcoming movie, “Night of the Hunter” was scheduled to get under way in the local area this afternoon.

This afternoon activity centered along the banks of the Ohio river at either Woodlands Island or Paden City, where John Crouch and Lois Jean Kennedy selected as doubles for the youthful thespians who will portray John and Pearl in the film version of the spine chilling novel penned by Davis Grubb, formerly of Moundsville, were to be eyes in the cameras in a small boat, rowing into the river.

But before they actually could go to work, many preliminary details had to be attended to yesterday.

State Approval Needed

Frank Parmenter, business manager of the film production company, learned that he must procure from Charleston a license for his corporation to do business in the state, and there was the added question of workmen’s compensation coverage. The Chamber of Commerce contacted Andy Ruckman, formerly of this city, who is in the state Industrial and Publicity Commission office at the capitol, and he advised that personal signatures to certa[i]n forms would be required to procure the necessary licenses and permits.

So yesterday afternoon, in Bill “Kreglow” Miller’s airplane, the producing official took off for Charleston, and by evening he was able to return here with all necessary papers to go ahead with the project today.

Cooperation Generous

Parmenter and others of his staff expressed themselves as being somewhat taken aback by the generous hospitality and spirit of cooperation evinced by local people in connection with the project.

They have asked for and received the use of facilities which would run into many dollars expense elsewhere-for example, the use of Allan Crowther’s cabin cruiser on the river to place cameras to take shots of the youngsters in the skiff-prompting Parmenter to comment on the generous nature of Moundsville area people.

It was not certain today how long the actual filming would require, but it was expected the work would be completed shortly and the crews would return to the West Coast where the principal scenes of the picture will be made. Shots taken here will be worked in to provide authentic background for the film.


Moundsville Daily Echo
September 2, 1954

Yesterday took us back 30 years. Remember back in those old times the airplanes were so uncommon, that every time one went over, you could see everybody on the street, gawking up into the sky. Those were the days into which Davis Grubb set the story of his recent book, “The Night of the Hunter.”

Wel[l], now they are filming “The Night of the Hunter,” and yesterday, as you drove about town, you could see people gawking up into the sky. But it wasn’t an airplane – it was the Whirlybird. That helicopter is, at first glance, the doggondest contraption you ever saw. It looks like some sort of peculiar bug. But its enormous advantage of being able to stand still anywhere in the sky makes up for all its funny looks. Yesterday evening, two sons of Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Campbell and their friends were playing croquet in their yard at 600 Fifth street, when the Whirlybird came down overhead, stopped there, the passenger took their pictures, and then the thing backed up into the sky and went away.


Moundsville Daily Echo
May 6, 1955

We Won’t Get Premiere Of “Hunter”

T. W. Keffer today received a letter from Paul Gregory whose firm made the movie of “Night of the Hunter” and shot part of the scenes here.

Mr. Keffer, Chamber of Commerce secretary who worked closely with them while they were here has been urging that the world premiere of the film be given in Moundsville, especially because this is the native home of the author, Davis Grubb, who laid its scenes, in this area.

However, Mr. Gregory indicated the world premiere will “no doubt” be held in the home town of its producer – Des Moines, Iowa.

Des Moines is going to have a “Paul Gregory Day” for the affair.

As for holding the premiere here, Mr. Gregory wrote: “I believe every city that is mentioned in the book has been after us for the world premiere, so that I rather imagine it woold be a mad scramble if we were to decide to have it in the Ohio river valley as to which city it would be in.

“In any event you may be certain I will keep you posted as to how things develop. Thank you most kindly for your sincere interest and your past cooperation.

“Very best and cordial wishes,
Paul Gregory.”

He said in his letter that the filming is completed and they are now engaged in the business aspects of selling it, getting distribution of printes and arranging for the world premiere.


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