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Wise Blood (1979)

Trailer
2:41 | Trailer
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.

Director:

John Huston (as Jhon Huston)

Writers:

Flannery O'Connor (novel), Benedict Fitzgerald (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Dourif ... Hazel Motes
John Huston ... Grandfather (as Jhon Huston)
Dan Shor ... Enoch Emory
Harry Dean Stanton ... Asa Hawks
Amy Wright ... Sabbath Lily
Mary Nell Santacroce Mary Nell Santacroce ... Landlady
Ned Beatty ... Hoover Shoates
William Hickey ... Preacher
J.L. Parker J.L. Parker ... Karl
Marvin Sapp Marvin Sapp ... Raymond
Richard Earle Richard Earle ... Jakob Winslow
Herb Kossover ... Jacob Wood
Betty Lou Groover Betty Lou Groover ... Leora Watts
John Tyndall John Tyndall ... Loki Martinson
Gillaaron Houck Gillaaron Houck ... Stranger #1
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

An American Masterpiece!

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 February 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Huston's Wise Blood See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Anthea Film, Ithaca See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When Enoch is waiting for Gonga to finish work and return to the truck, a chain is seen hanging from the driver's side of the truck at the rear and also can be seen as the truck reverses out. It is no longer there though when the truck starts to drive away down the road and is not seen again. See more »

Quotes

Hazel: Two things that I just can't stand- a man that ain't true and one that mocks what is.
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 »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Tennessee Waltz
(uncredited)
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

Demented, satiric oddball, cult film crying out to be rediscovered by a new audience
8 January 2009 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

What other testament to how criminally neglected this film is other than the fact it has a rough 900 votes at the time of writing this? A movie directed by Hollywood titan John Huston of all people. That's not to say WISE BLOOD is not a flawed film, few if any such films exist after all, nor that it has that dramatic wholesomeness and clear and profound characterization that makes something like THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE the classic it is, yet, much like 80's cult paean REPO MAN, it remains endlessly watchable and fascinating in its own demented way.

The movie follows the trials and tribulations of Hazel Motes, a young man fresh back from a war (not specified which - any war will do really) somewhere in the deep South who starts out as an angry man who believes in no saviours and no dogmas and dreams of a Church of Christ without Christ and slowly finds himself digressing out of circumstances out of his hand to that which he most loathes. It's not specified to what extent the war changed him as a man or if it did at all but it appears his fundamendalist Christian grandfather (played in a flashback cameo by John Huston hisself) had a larger impact in his formative years than any war trauma.

Turning from fierce individualist and hater of preachers to zealous preacher of his own church where there is neither fall, redemption or judgement because there's nothing to fall from and nothing to be redeemed for, and from preacher to self-tormenting repentant, Brad Dourif brings Hazel Motes and his monomaniac pursuit alive on screen with burning passion. Always tense and ready to lash out at everyone and anyone, he's a seething mass of tendons and nerves writhing with agitation.

I have not read Flannery O'Connor's original novel nor have I been brought up in a Protestant or Catholic background (or the South for that matter), but there's something captivating about Wise Blood beyond and despite its particular subject matter. That elusive quality that turns a good movie into a haunting one. Still, it's easy to see why it failed to find an audience when it came out and has been largely forgotten ever since. The seriocomic mood is perhaps a bit too incosistent for the viewer who needs to quickly determine what kind of response the movie before him demands. Part religious drama, part road movie, part demented black comedy, part satiric oddity, Wise Blood is as hard to file under a specific label as it is to watch without a reaction. Yet it doesn't fail in any of them, and that's why it's such a bonafide cult film.

Blessed with a powerhouse performance by Brad Dourif, enhanced by cameos of such character actor stalwarts as Harry Dean Stanton (in the role of blind preacher) and Ned Beatty (in the role of preacher manager), the picturesque baroque of the American South, and assured direction by venerable Hollywood giant John Huston, Wise Blood, in all its southern Gothic glory, is a cult film crying out to be rediscovered by a new audience.


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