Saturday, April 1, 2017
JRO's #90: Wise Blood (John Huston, 1979)
I've been out of town all week and didn't re-watch this one either. So, no commentary.
Briefly, I love this film because John Huston makes it his own. It is my favorite late Huston (and there is a bunch of good late Huston).
I don't have my list in front of me so I'm not sure what the final count is, but I'll give a major list "spoiler" right now. John Huston shows up here more often than any other director. As far as this list goes, I'm not quite an auteurist. I followed my heart (my gut, my bowels) and only listed films that were personally important to me. It turns out that I have no single favorite director. The Top 20 or so are all by different directors. That wasn't me being intentionally diverse. It's just the reality of it. It turns out that individual films matter to me much more often than a director's entire output does. I think that this is probably true for most people and that it would be more rare for someone to have ten films by the same director in their Top 20.
The exception for me is John Huston. I didn't know it until I made this list and realized that I put quite a few of his films on here without even thinking twice about it. It was a little bit of a surprise to me and then I realized that it was just obvious. Of course John Huston is my favorite director.
I don't think that Huston shows up in the final Top 20. But I think he's on the rest 5 or 6 times. He's the one director whose sensibilities match up with mine the most. His work is thoroughly literary (to a fault, say some of his detractors) and I know of no one else who has a better record of excellent novel adaptations. He was drinking buddies with Bogart. He hired Ray Bradbury to work on Moby Dick for him. Ray Bradbury. Moby Dick. This is a man who understands American Literature and America.
And John Huston's Wise Blood is a reflection of that America, an America that I recognize. It's not quite Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. Or rather, it is, but with a Huston twist. Huston draws out and emphasizes the humor in the story (yes, it's already there), but he doesn't neglect the other painful human dimensions of the story. From what I know of O'Connor and John Huston, I like to think that they would have gotten along together quite well.