The problem with coming up with an all-time Top 10 film list is that afterwards, you think of a lot of films you should have included instead. “Wise Blood” is one of them.
Based on Flannery O’Connor’s novel, “Wise Blood” is about Hazel Motes, an angry young man who is fed up with religion and wants to start a new church, without Christ. Several things get in his way and inevitably, the more he tries to run away from religion, the more it seems to creep into his life. Believe me, this is not a pro-religion tale by any means. The fact that Hazel can’t escape religion is seen as ironic and comically awful.
Brad Dourif should have gotten an Oscar nod for his performance as Hazel, if not the statue itself. This is one of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen and it’s definitely the best thing Dourif has ever done. He plays the entire role like a caged rat, but ready to bite the head off anyone who gets in his way. The supporting performances by Ned Beatty, Harry Dean Stanton, and Amy Wright are all terrific.
This was kind of a comeback film for legendary director John Huston. He made this during a low point in his career, got a lot of praise for it, and then two years later got the “honor” of directing the film adaptation of “Annie” in 1982 … yeah … my thoughts exactly. But Huston soon directed “Under the Volcano” and “Prizzi’s Honor” and acquitted himself quite nicely.
Long very hard to find, the Criterion Collection came out with a beautiful DVD of this approximately 5 years ago. This is a great, great movie.