Wise Blood: The Criterion Treatment

In 1979, the great film director John Huston turned to the producer of his latest film and said: "I've been had!"[caption id="attachment_5836" align="alignright" width="273" caption="Brad Dourif as Hazel Motes"]Brad Dourif as Hazel Motes[/caption]The context: Huston had just wrapped his film adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel, Wise Blood. Huston, an atheist who wasn't shy about it, wanted to capture the violence, grotesquerie, and Southern gothicism of O'Connor's story without the God bits.But his collaborators on the film were Sally Fitzgerald and two of her sons, Benedict and Michael. The Fitzgeralds, as you may know, were close friends of O'Connor, devoutly Catholic, and eventually became her literary executors.The Fitzgeralds managed to maneuver Huston perfectly: his directorial genius wedded to their terrific script.The result is an improbable triumph -- brilliantly cast (Brad Dourif as Hazel Motes), filmed on richly-suggestive locations in and around Macon, Georgia, this story of a prophet-in-the-making is dense with meaning, horror, and dark comedy.Many of O'Connor's great lines make it through unscathed, including the classic: ""No man with a good car needs to be justified."Unavailable for many years, it has just been released in the prestigious Criterion Collection, complete with interviews with Brad Dourif, Michael and Benedict Fitzgerald, and an audio recording of O'Connor reading "A Good Man is Hard to Find."What do you think: the perfect stocking stuffer for that special someone enamored of the anagogical imagination?

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Ensor at MoMA

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