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
The name of the essay about the film included in the Criterion Collection's DVD booklet is "A Matter of Life and Death" by writer Francine Prose. See more »
Hazels' position changes between shots as he talks with the landlady about being clean. See more »
Two things that I just can't stand- a man that ain't true and one that mocks what is.
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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 »
Black humor has never been done better. But this is not a film for the squeamish. It's going to take some thought. Not a film to be watched while doing the dishes. This is a challenging but rewarding film that borders on being a great work of art. The first time I saw this film I was impressed. Each time I rewatch this movie it becomes more funny in an odd sort of fatalistic way. Each time I rewatch it it becomes more impressive. It's almost impossible to describe the way the bittersweet pathos of the movie collides with the funny, goofy, craziness of the characters. We've seen these people but rarely do we really consider their lives. They're damaged or idiots or inept swindlers or all three. We look at them with small amusement or try to get away from them, but don't give them much thought. I usually don't care much about actors. They are a dime a dozen. This film is different. This is pretty much every actors best role. Brad Dourif shows why he should be way more famous. Amy Wright is spellbinding in as a very strange girl. Dan Shor is hilarious and pathetic at the same time as a lonely moron. Stanton is hysterically funny as an utterly corrupt preacher. Lot's of other unusual and interesting performances including a small but wonderful performance by a sympathetic one armed mechanic, a wise but vicious highway patrolman and a small town hooker enjoying her own downward spiral. In the end all of the characters are doomed, but they are all worth caring for in spite of and because of their own strange but very human weaknesses. In addition it's beautifully filmed and has a heart rendering score that fits it perfectly. Reputed to be Hustons own personal favorite film, it bombed at the box office. Highly recommended.
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