Wise Blood (film)

Wise Blood is a 1979 drama film directed by John Huston and starring Brad Dourif, Dan Shor, Amy Wright, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ned Beatty. It is based on the 1952 novel Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor. As a co-production with Germany the film was titled Der Ketzer or Die Weisheit des Blutes when released in Germany, and Le Malin when released in France.

Wise Blood
Wise Blood poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed byJohn Huston
Produced byKathy Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald
Written byBenedict Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald
Based onWise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
StarringBrad Dourif
Dan Shor
Harry Dean Stanton
Amy Wright
John Huston
Ned Beatty
Music byAlex North
CinematographyGerry Fisher
Edited byRoberto Silvi
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • May 23, 1979 (1979-05-23) (Cannes)
  • October 24, 1979 (1979-10-24) (France)
  • December 12, 1979 (1979-12-12) (Los Angeles)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
West Germany


Hazel "Haze" Motes is a 22-year-old veteran of an unspecified war and a preacher of the Church of Truth Without Christ, a religious organization of his own creation, which is against any belief in God, an afterlife, sin, or evil. The protagonist comes across various characters such as teenager Sabbath Lilly Hawks, her grandfather Asa Hawks who is a conventional side-walk preacher; and a local boy, Enoch Emery, who finds a "new" Jesus at the local museum in the form of the tiny corpse of a shrunken South American Indian. Hoover Shoates is a promoter who wants to manage Hazel's career as a prophet while Hazel's landlady falls in love with him.[1]

The director of the film appears in several fantasy sequences as Hazel's grandfather.[1]



Wise Blood was filmed mostly in and around Macon, Georgia, near O'Connor's home Andalusia in Baldwin County, using many local residents as extras. The original music score was composed by Alex North.

New Line Cinema picked up U.S. distribution of the film after the screening at the Cannes Film Festival.[2]


The film premiered out of competition at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival in May 1979.[3] The film was amended, in particular, the soundtrack, and was shown at the New York Film Festival in September and then released in France in October.[2] The film was released for an Academy Awards qualifying run for one week at the Laemmle Royal Theatre in Los Angeles in December before being released in the rest of the United States in February 1980.[2]

Home mediaEdit

It was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection on May 12, 2009.[4]

Critical receptionEdit

At Cannes, the film received a mixed reception.[2] Following its screening at the New York Film Festival, critic Vincent Canby called the film "one of John Huston's most original, most stunning movies. It is so eccentric, so funny, so surprising, and so haunting that it is difficult to believe it is not the first film of some enfant terrible instead of the thirty-third feature by a man who is now in his seventies and whose career has had more highs and lows than a decade of weather maps."[1] Sam Jordison of The Guardian wrote in a retrospective review; "This adaptation is wonderful. It pulls off the rare trick of seeming faithful to the spirit and voice of the book, while being a work of art in its own right."[5]

As of August 2020, Wise Blood holds a rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes from 23 reviews.[6]

In 2003, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Canby, Vincent (29 September 1979). "Screen: 'Wise Blood,' Huston's 33d Feature:The Cast". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "New Line Sets Oscar Run For 'Wise Blood' After Pickup For U.S.". Variety. November 21, 1979. p. 3.
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Wise Blood". Cannes Festival website. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Wise Blood: A Matter of Life and Death". Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  5. ^ Jordison, Sam (21 December 2012). "Reading group: John Huston's Wise Blood is an unlikely cinematic feat". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  6. ^ Wise Blood, Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. The New York Times via Internet Archive. Published April 29, 2003. Retrieved June 12, 2008.

External linksEdit