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Wise Blood (1979)

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A Southerner--young, poor, ambitious but uneducated--determines to become something in the world. He decides that the best way to do that is to become a preacher and start up his own church.


(as Jhon Huston)


(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hazel Motes
Grandfather (as John Huston)
Enoch Emory
Asa Hawks
Sabbath Lily
Mary Nell Santacroce ...
Hoover Shoates
J.L. Parker ...
Marvin Sapp ...
Richard Earle ...
Jakob Winslow
Herb Kossover ...
Jacob Wood
Betty Lou Groover ...
Leora Watts
John Tyndall ...
Loki Martinson
Gillaaron Houck ...
Stranger #1


US Army war veteran Hazel Motes may not be a believing Christian, somehow observations like the state of a run-down country church, meeting the ridiculous frauds on the streets and memories inspire him to take up, after initially fierce refusal, the part of a traveling preacher when a cab driver insists he looks like one in his new hat. He starts his own new Church of Truth, without the crucified Jesus, his first disciple being an 18-year old simpleton with a 'prophetic gift'... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An American Masterpiece!


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 February 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jhon Huston's Wise Blood  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Wise Blood was the second movie that John Huston and Ned Beatty made together after The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. See more »


At one point Hazel Motes' car dies as he is driving on a 2-lane rural road. He happens to stop next to a religious inscription painted on a rock. He is stopped for some time. A truck driver behind him asks why he is blocking road. We see there is a long line of cars backed up behind him. Although his car had stalled and stopped, he now starts it up without any problem, makes a U-turn and drives away. See more »


Hazel: I thought if your girl give me so much fast eye back there I just might return some of it.
Sabbath Lily: What I give you the other day was the look of indignation for what I seen you do. It was you that give me the fast eye.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Director John Huston is credited in all the titles as "Jhon Huston". Producer Michael Fitzgerald later explained that, wanting to have a child-like look to the credits, they had an actual child write the names. The child misspelled Huston's first name, but they liked it and kept it, as a metaphor for the artificial, off-kilter tone of the story. See more »


Referenced in Observations Under the Volcano (1984) See more »


Tennessee Waltz
Written by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King
Heard as a theme during the opening credits and during the film
See more »

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User Reviews

A perfect adaptation of O'Connor's masterpiece.
1 May 1999 | by (warren michigan) – See all my reviews

It is rare to find an great film adaptation of a great book. One can think of great films that have been made from novels of the second or third rank: Dodsworth, The Age of Innocence,L.A. Confidential,The Magnificent Ambersons, Barry Lyndon. However, one can think of very few great film adaptations of great novels. In fact, great novels are often made into badly flawed or even poor films. One thinks of all the bad adaptations of Faulkner,Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy, as well as the seeming near impossibility of making a great film from Joyce or Proust. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Interestingly, two of the best were directed by John Huston. The first was that perfect adaptation of one of the five best short stories ever written, The Dead. The other was this incredibly powerful, chilling, sardonic, profoundly moving, and superbly acted version of Flannery O'Connors tale of the "Christ-haunted" American south, Wise Blood. Huston was by his own account, a less than religious man. It is therefore ironic that the very Catholic friends and executors of that supremely ironic Catholic novelist, Flannery O' Connor should have chosen him to direct this, her masterpiece. I can hardly think of a more faithful, a more precise or a more literate transcription of one of the supreme masterpieces of literature to the screen. A truly great, searing, blackly humorous, extraordinarily moving, film.

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