Wise Blood

Rated 4.0

When John Huston ended his five-decade directorial career with the 1-2-3 punch of Under the Volcano, Prizzi’s Honor and The Dead, the general perception was that he had made a really, really late-in-life “comeback.” However, Huston had quietly spent the 1970s making good films; Fat City, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Man Who Would Be King and the newly released Wise Blood are all unique cinematic visions. The compelling oddity Wise Blood adapts Flannery O’Connor’s story of Hazel Motes, a Southern man scarred by religion who nevertheless fashions himself as a post-Jesus street preacher. Motes is like Elmer Gantry without charm or avarice, holding instead a pathetic, deep-seated conviction in his own wickedness. Huston’s pieces don’t always fit together cleanly, but no one could have played the reedy, possessed Motes better than young Brad Dourif.