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Wise Blood

4.1 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Flannery O'Connor's Hazel Motes becomes the Deep South evangelist of a church without Christ. Directed by John Huston.

Special Features

None.

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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TIQT70
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,317 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wise Blood" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Never afraid to tackle serious literature, Huston provides a lightly streamlined version of Flannery O'Connor's first novel, a true classic of modern American fiction. Brad Dourif's performance as Hazel Motes is terrific. The supporting cast turns in note-perfect portrayals of these odd and compelling characters. The lamentably overlooked Amy Wright is absolutely brilliant as Lily Sabbath Hawkes. This is a haunting and affecting story and it has been respectfully handled by Huston. The only flaw is the shallow and annoying soundtrack.
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