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Director John Huston and author Flannery O'Connor prove a formidable creative match in Wise Blood, a gothic satire anchored by Brad Dourif's vinegary performance. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

After returning home from World War II, uneducated and irreligious U.S. Army veteran Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif) decides to make his way in the world by impersonating a priest and starting his own religion. Motes soon attracts a follower -- a manic potato peeler named Enoch Emery (Dan Shor) -- but things get complicated when he encounters fellow sidewalk charlatans Asa Hawks (Harry Dean Stanton) and his waif-like young daughter, Sabbath Lilly Hawks (Amy Wright).

Cast & Crew

Brad Dourif
Hazel Motes
Amy Wright
Sabbath Lily
Dan Shor
Enoch Emory
John Huston
Grandfather
Ned Beatty
Hoover Shoates
Michael Fitzgerald
Screenwriter
Kathy Fitzgerald
Producer
Michael Fitzgerald
Producer
Alex North
Original Music
Gerry Fisher
Cinematographer
Roberto Silvi
Film Editor
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Critic Reviews for Wise Blood

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (3)

  • Flannery O'Connor's incisive sense of person and place is brilliantly captured in this 1979 film adaptation of her highly regarded first novel, which plays out as a broad comedy set within a timeless purgatory.

    August 4, 2020 | Rating: 5/6 | Full Review…
  • This time, Huston has found material that was all but guaranteed to fuel the battiest recesses of his imagination.

    September 19, 2014 | Full Review…
  • John Huston, with uncluttered direction and expert handling of actors, has fashioned a disturbing tale of the fringe side of overzealous religious preachers in the deep South.

    July 6, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Huston's Wise Blood is a sharp, busy canvas that, like a man with a good car, doesn't need to be justified.

    May 13, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • This adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel is John Huston's best film for many years.

    January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
  • One of John Huston's most original, most stunning movies.

    May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Wise Blood

  • Feb 18, 2012
    Decidely more tragicomic and surrealist than ever before. Another show about the love that John Huston always professed to losers.
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2011
    One would think that a film based on a novel by one's favorite Southern Gothic author and directed by John Huston would be a sure-fire recipe for an enjoyable film. One would be wrong. Wooden characterizations, a severely limited emotional range, plot elements loosely thrown together, and diversions that went nowhere made this one that the viewer had to force himself to finish. The one bright spot in an otherwise dreadful film was Amy Wright as the young woman, Sabbath Lily. Innocence and worldly wisdom resided comfortably side by side in her characterization, and she could be seductive one minute and incredibly naive the next and make both completely believable. The two young men, Hazel Motes and Enoch Emory, played by Brad Dourif and Dan Shor, respectively, were nothing more than one-dimensional caricatures of backwoods southern boys. Hazel is a returning veteran who has lost his religion and moves to the big city. He is angry at the world and all of his lines and all of his energy was devoted to maintaining a righteous anger throughout. One quickly tired of his diatribes. Enoch, is the country bumpkin who becomes fascinated with whatever shiny thing is in front of his nose at the moment. He desperately wants people to like him, but his efforts to please them are so inept as to make his character pathetic rather than sympathetic. I expected batter from the legendary director and found this effort doubly disappointing.
    Mark A Super Reviewer
  • Aug 12, 2010
    A film based on a Flannery O'Connor novel shouldn't be this boring. I think the problem is that John Huston was a devote atheist so he couldn't really have the extreme religious conviction of O'Connor even if he made a film that is pretty faithful to what happens in the novel. O'Connor's stories are sort of a Catholic take on Southern Gothic literature, and while I'm not sure I ever really agree with her, all her stories make for interesting reads. I don't want to be too hard on the film, Brad Dourif is fantastic, and maybe I shouldn't blame Huston too much. The real problem is that any movie loses the wonderful poetry of O'Connor's descriptions so maybe film adaptations are out of the question.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2010
    A very strange and thoughtful 70s drama with dark and comedic twists. Directed by John Huston and starring Brad Dourif, the film tackles a lot of themes and adapts to a variety of tones throughout, making for an experience both ambitious and scattershot. The final fourth of the film is particularly difficult to grasp. But despite being uneven and repellant at time, in Huston's hands the film always remains entertaining and interesting. It's worth the effort for Dourif outstanding performance alone. Huston in his more outlandish form.
    Michael S Super Reviewer

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