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
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 »
A hefty percentage of the comments on "Wise Blood" dwell on its relationship to the novel from which it was drawn -- pro and con. Brilliant faithful adaptation says one moviegoer. Trashy sacrilege screams another. Those of us who haven't read the book are stuck with the movie which balances superb atmosphere with strange storytelling. Let's start on the plus side. John Huston and his crew have caught not only the look but the feel, almost the smell, of a midsize southern town in Summer. The weathered frame houses, the sagging streets, the one-screen cinema, the tired used car lot with its rusty Ford Fairlanes, they form a richly authentic backdrop for the action. That's where "Wise Blood" gets into trouble. Who is Hazel,played by Brad Dourif, what war did he emerge from, why does he want to be a preacher and most of all, why does he suffer psychotic temper tantrums? You'll have to figure that out for yourself -- along with why a would-be acolyte steals an embalmed monkey for him and why the nymphet daughter of a "blind" evangelist is smitten with him, down to her threadbare stockings. Sure, there are allegorical references galore throughout the film. The phoniness of Gonga, the gorilla (a bruiser in an ape suit) matched against the phoniness of street corner preachers. But in the end, maybe you'll say to yourself (but never breathe a word to more ephemeral friends)I just wish the darned thing made more sense.
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