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Wise Blood [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1979]

Release Date:05/12/2009
Wise Blood was a surprising project coming from John Huston -- a modest, low-budget adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel about one man's rather combative relationship with God, it was a personal effort from a man who was used to working with major stars and large bankrolls, and it ha been acclaimed as one of the most remarkable works of Huston's career. After years out of print on home video, the Criterion Collection have made Wise Blood available again on DVD in a handsome, well-appointed edition. Most of the pervious video releases of Wise Blood have tended look grainy and a bit washed out, emphasizing the picture's low budget, but Criterion's transfer -- letterboxed at 1.78:1 on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic play on 16x9 monitors -- gives the image a richer and better saturated color balance, and the picture is noticeably sharper than it had been in the past, though a certain softness is still apparent. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and the fidelity is crisp and clear, emphasizing the beauty of Alex North's fine score. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. For this edition, Criterion has included new interviews with actor Brad Dourif, producer Michael Fitzgerald and screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald, all of whom offer interesting details on the production and Huston's unique working methods (including how the film's limited budget added to its curious but realistic look and why the director's name is misspelled in the credits). Director Huston is represented by a 1982 episode of the PBS series Creativity with Bill Moyers, in which the journalist interviews Huston about his life and working methods. Wise Blood's original theatrical trailer is also featured, as well as a rare audio recording of Flannery O'Connor reading and discussing her short story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," believed to be the only recording of the author reading her work and a fascinating document of her perspective on her own work (as well as her mellifluous deep Southern voice). And finally, the booklet includes a thoughtful essay by Francine Prose on Wise Blood and Huston's history of adventurous literary adaptations. It was far from a box-office success, but Wise Blood remains one of John Huston's most satisfying works, and Criterion has finally treated it like the major work it is with this essential DVD edition.

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    Special Features

    • Interviews with actor Brad Dourif, writer Benedict Fitzgerald, and writer-producer Michael Fitzgerald
    • Rare archival audio recording of author Flannery O'Connor reading her short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
    • 26-minute episode of the television program Creativity with Bill Moyers from 1982, featuring director John Huston discussing his life and work
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by author Francine Prose


    Wise Blood
    Set in the Deep South during the postwar era, Wise Blood stars Brad Dourif as an aimless veteran, who decides to become a Bible-thumping preacher (for a questionable concern called "The Church Wihout Christ") principally because he hasn't anything better lined up. Dourif links up with a veteran of the hellfire-and-brimstone circuit, who for business purposes pretends to be blind. The older man persuades Dourif to blind himself for real so that he can truly "see the light" (yes, the movie is that weird). Director Huston, himself, appears as Dourif's grandfather. Adapted from the one-of-a-kind novel by Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood was a noble experiment but a box-office failure-though, to be fair, Huston never set out to make a blockbuster from O'Connor's offbeat tale. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Brad Dourif
      Brad Dourif - Hazel Motes
    • Ned Beatty
      Ned Beatty - Hoover Shoates
    • Harry Dean Stanton
      Harry Dean Stanton - Asa Hawks
    • Dan Shor
      Dan Shor - Enoch Emory
    • Amy Wright
      Amy Wright - Sabbath Lily Hawks

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.