Prizzi's Honor (1985)

Prizzi's Honor (1985), directed by John Huston.


Marry her. Just because she's a thief and a hitter doesn't mean she's not a good woman in all the other departments.

This is a hard one to figure out. It is not a mob comedy or spoof, not a romantic comedy, nor a broad social satire, but is still something of all of those. The plot is tragic but the dialogue comic. I haven't read Richard Condon's novel but he did the screenplay and liked the results.

I'm disoriented about the time period. At first the clothes and cameras make me think 1940s, but then we have modern cars, jets and New York skyline. The mob family seems to live in a time capsule and decor and fashions change slowly for them.

My mind circles back to The Godfather (1972) and I wonder: what if Luca Brasi or one of the other enforcers fell in love at first sight with a woman who turned out to be a player herself, dangerous and not to be trusted? And we were still pulling for them, hoping that even suspicious killers can find happiness. Still, there is that danger of being deceived and we don't want Charley to be a chump...

I saw it once years ago and remembered nothing about it apart from the shock ending, and now I see that had been censored! Back then I found Jack Nicholson's Brooklyn accent hard to take; it bothers me less now.

Kathleen Turner emerged as a blazing talent, instant stardom. Face, figure, intelligence and a steely core.

Anjelica Huston is the third side of the triangle and it is not until late in the film that we discover this has been her story all along. It is about her triumph.

John Huston had a directing comeback late in life and the film was a surprise hit. The studio didn't know what to do with it, hence the rom-com poster:

Alex North score.

Available on Blu-ray with a happy, adulatory commentary track. They point out something I've noticed about Huston: although some of his films are still well known (The African Queen (1951), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The Maltese Falcon (1941)) he is not often discussed as a film director, which is surprising given his large catalog of worthy films. All very different: he hardly ever repeated himself.

I've seen complaints about the mastering of this disc, but I think much of the softness is innate to this film which is heavily filtered to give a classic look. On some bright objects you can see massive diffraction from what I presume is gauze on the lens.