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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.

Director:

John Huston (as Jhon Huston)

Writers:

Flannery O'Connor (novel), Benedict Fitzgerald (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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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 »
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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

First of two collaborations of actor William Hickey and director John Huston. The films are Wise Blood (1979) and about six years later Prizzi's Honor (1985). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Hazel: This car is just beginning its life, a lightning bolt couldn't stop it.
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

Simple Gifts
(uncredited)
Shaker hymn written & composed by Joseph Brackett
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User Reviews

Wise Blood and Mary Flannery O'Connor
3 May 2003 | by duncan52See all my reviews

I finally saw this movie. Had to get it on loan through the inter-library loaning service. I liked it very much. It was pretty faithful to Flannery O'Connor's story. John Houston and the cast deserve accolades for bringing this story, that can be elusive when trying to figure out what is going on, to the screen. And from some of the viewer's comments, I can see how difficult it is to understand. I sent some e-mails of my views to some of the reviewer's of this movie.

Any review of "Wise Blood" must be done in the context of the book. The odd ball and crazy characters we see all have a purpose. The hypocracy of religion is only a tool. Many of us at some point have seen some of the characters; the odd balls, the charlatans. Ned Beatty is magnificent in almost a cameo role for him. There is a tool in writing called "use of the grotesque" and some have called it "Southern grotesque". Referencing that most of the strange characters come from the South. But whether that is true or not, it did provide a source for Flannery O'Connor's books and stories.

It has been written that her stories and books are narrow, because they deal with Christianity and in particular with people in crisis and how these people go about resolving their crisis. But her stories are well-crafted and "full of insight about human weakness".

Hazel Motes crisis was trying to build a church of Christ without Christ and this led him down a path he could not resolve in his mind. Everywhere he turned, his church and ultimately he was rejected. I believe(I use these words because this is my interpretation) Hazel finally realizes that if all his attempts have failed then there is a Jesus. And Hazel being a prophet now must suffer like a prophet. The rest is his own doing his atonement for sinning. There was one small part in the book left out of the movie. When the police go to find Hazel, one of the policemen hits him with his night stick. I think of Christ being stabbed on the cross by a Roman Soldier, when the policeman hits Hazel. Also in the movie there is not enough emphasis on the Landlady's change. When she first starts taking care O hazel after he blinds himself, she is interested in his money(not explained well in the movie). After he leaves her and goes out in the rain storm, she is fearful he will get sick, and when he comes back not realizing he is dead, tells him it is okay. He can stay upstairs or not. He can do what he wants. She has experienced a return to grace. There is a collection of Mary O'Connor's writings and lectures she gave called "Mystery and Manners" edited by her good friend Sally Fitzgerald. There is a lot of material that helps to explain her writing. I wish I could explain more about Flannery O'connor, but I am glad I can read her and glad that John Houston made "Wise Blood" into a movie.

Regards,

Fran Stone


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