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Wise Blood

49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In this acclaimed adaptation of the first novel by legendary Southern writer Flannery O’Connor, John Huston brings to life a world of vivid, poetic American eccentricity. Brad Dourif, in an impassioned performance, is Hazel Motes, who, fresh out of the army, attempts to open the first Church Without Christ in the small town of Taulkinham. Populated with inspired performances that seem to spring right from O’Connor’s pages, Huston’s Wise Blood is an incisive portrait of spirituality and evangelicalism, as well as a faithful, loving evocation of one writer’s vision.


• New, restored high-definition digital transfer

• New interviews with actor Brad Dourif, writer Benedict Fitzgerald, and writer-producer Michael Fitzgerald

• Rare archival audio recording of author Flannery O’Connor reading her short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

• Creativity with Bill Moyers: “John Huston,” a 28-minute television program from 1982 in which the director discusses his life and work

• Theatrical trailer

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by author Francine Prose

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Dan Albright, Ned Beatty, Joe Dorsey, Brad Dourif, William Hickey
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TIQT70
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,904 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wise Blood" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Robin Simmons VINE VOICE on May 13, 2009
Format: DVD
"WISE BLOOD" is an overlooked jewel.

Southern writer Flannery O'Connor's first novel, "Wise Blood," made it to the big screen in 1979. The John Huston directed, low budget feature was widely praised and then practically forgotten.

O'Connor was a devout Catholic. She was also battling lupus, the sometimes debilitating immune disorder. Both factors may have colored her novel. Huston was a devout atheist. His world view certainly nuanced the tone of the film.

The story concerns a somewhat troubled, perhaps damaged, youth, Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif). Just out of the army and son of a fire and brimstone Pentecostal preacher, Motes is determined to open the first Church Withouth Christ in Taulkinham, Tennessee.

A young Brad Dourif is brilliant as the driven, vexed, Motes. There's not a false note or a wasted frame. His is a journey of spiritual self-exploration, penance and perhaps redemption. O'Connor's curiosity about the southern brand of Pentecostal mind set is riveting on film. Motes is trying to shed the damage of his ferocious religious childhood, but cannot shed his spirituality. He finds he's a Christian in spite of himself.

Supporting actors Harry Dean Stanton, Amy Wright, Ned Beatty, William Hickey and Dan Shor are all spot on.

The frisson between director Huston's disdain for religion and O'Connor's devoutness is a perfect match. The screenplay by brothers Benedict and Michael Fitzgerald does not stray from the core events, tone and ideas of O'Connor's story.

The obviously lower budget production, shot mostly in Macon, Georgia of the late 1970s, does not really detract, even though the novel is set in a somewhat earlier period.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Randy Buck VINE VOICE on April 22, 2009
Format: DVD
Finally! John Huston's wonderful, spare adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's darkly brilliant comic novel comes to DVD. I've loved this film since its original release -- saw it repeatedly in Paris during its first run there, where it was more successful critically than APOCALYPSE NOW or TESS -- and have tried to catch it at every (infrequent) opportunity since. The period details are a bit off (a low budget guaranteed a bare-bones physical production), but the screenplay and direction couldn't be better. And that cast! A career performance from Brad Dourif as the religion-crazed Hazel Motes, marvellous supporting work from Harry Dean Stanton, Dan Shor and Amy Wright, the ideal Sabbath Lily -- and Atlanta actress Mary Nell Santacroce (mother of Dana Ivey) is unforgettable as Hazel's landlady. O'Connor's violent, sin-soaked South is certainly not for all tastes, nor, in its fidelity to her work, is this film. But if you respond to her vision, this picture will haunt you the rest of your life. Hats off to Criterion for giving us another in their line of wonderful restorations.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on July 14, 2009
Format: DVD
John Huston sets this adaptation of Flannery O'Connors Wise Blood not in the sin-soaked South of the early-twentieth century but in the present. This may have been due to budgetary constraints but Huston makes virtue of necessity and the result is a film that looks like it grew right out of the decaying streets of Anytown, America circa the late-1970's. The result is offsetting at first, because in this translation the story is less about religion and more about an America that has lost its unifying vision (if indeed it ever had one). Therefore, thematically, Huston's Wise Blood squares nicely with many other American films from the 69-81 Vietnam and post-Vietnam era like Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy, Bogdanavich's The Last Picture Show, Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop, Altman's Nashville, Malick's Days of Heaven, and Forman's Ragtime.

As the beginning credits roll we are treated to a series of beautiful black and white photographs which serve as evocations of an older America but one that in some ways still exists and lives on in the old run-down parts of town and in the old run-down neighborhoods even as a new America tries to re-invent itself and erase its ties to its sin-soaked past. Wise Blood is about American history and identity in a time of national crisis, but Huston does not emphasize the Vietnam War as the source of this crisis, rather he underplays it and instead chooses to focus simply on a lack of a substantive vision (religious, artistic, or otherwise) to lend coherence to the chaos that is America not just in the seventies but in all times and places.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on December 2, 2009
Format: DVD
Brad Dourif gives a stellar and terrifying performance in this crazy jewel of an independent film based on Flannery O' Connor's novel "Wise Blood".

While it might not match the majesty of the novel, what possibly could?

Hazel Motes is an angry SOB who is determined to prove to the world that Jesus Christ is a sham. More than that, he's out to destroy anyone who claims that Christ is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life; he has all the maniacal zeal of a debauched decadent damning himself into sainthood.

There are frequent flashbacks to Hazel's childhood, sitting in backwoods barns and hearing about hellfire and damnation from a tall, ugly, and sinister Pentecostal preacher played by none other than director John Huston. This man was Mote's Grandfather and he was so terrifying that in one scene young Hazel urinates all over the place.

He encounters all manner of evil and corruption as he bashes heads trying to become *the* only preacher in the South (not likely). Encountering frauds, tricksters, and money hungry snake oil salesmen, the worst is perhaps Ned Beatty and his companion Asa Hawks (Harry Dean Stanton). Not only do they plagiarize Hazel's demented sermons, given on the tops of cars and random streetcorners, they dare to do so for money, which really pisses Hazel off. And Brad Dourif playing Hazel Motes--well, you wouldn't want to piss either of them off.

In reality, behind his Protestant-atheist disguise, this man is a "Jesus Hog" as the daughter of the "Blind Preacher" calls him, and a penitent in the making. Even his treatment of his insane, monkey suit donning young friend is only another manifestation of Catholicism's burning flame drawing him near like a demented moth. And he crashes on that flame, quite badly. This is recommended for anyone who still concernes themselves with O' Connor's work and that raggedy, shadowy beggar who lurks in the trees and everywhere else. Really sick and really pure.
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is there any english subtitles
There were no subtitles in my version - English or otherwise.
Aug 23, 2009 by Shackleford |  See all 2 posts
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