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 »
John Huston used to describe the story as that of a young man who was disappointed by Jesus.
This is one of his least accessible works,not for the mainstream,and we can put it near "reflections in a golden eye" (1967),"under the volcano" (1984) and his final apotheosis "the dead" (1987)
"Wise blood" is a the story of a long suicide.It's a hell of a thing to tell the world "I believe in nothing" .the main character is so weird,so irrational,so unconventional that only an outstanding thespian could play him:that's what Brad Dourif does ,and his performance is remarkable:in the last third of the movie,he has almost nothing to say,and he must express everything with his face and his spellbinding eyes.In this last third,the only thing to do for the character is to nullify his life.
John Huston briefly appears as his father,the preacher man,but these flashbacks last hardly three minutes.
"Wise blood" is hustonian to the core.Vanity of vanities,all is vanity,all that man will try is bound to fail:it's everywhere in every milestone of Huston's career,from "the asphalt jungle" to "treasure of the sierra madre" and from " the misfits" to "the man who would be king" But here the hero does not even try :praying Jesus or denying him does not mean more to him than shaking the hand of a gorilla.And making money with his church without a savior does not even come to his mind.Around him,everybody needs something to lean on,be it a grotesque ape,a mummy or simply a man (see the landlady).
In 1979,Huston was more "modern" than the most daring young director.
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