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USA 1985
Directed by
John Huston
129 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Prizzi's Honor

This smart black comedy based on a Richard Condon novel unlike comparable fare in The Godfather (1972) tradition which is clearly its point of reference takes a less "ethnic" approach and features a non-Italo-American cast (the seventy-eight year old Huston is Irish-American director and Condon is Irish).

It is wittily written (Condon co-scripted with Janet Roach) and features an excellent cast in top form. Anjelica Huston, the director's daughter, plays MaeRose Prizzi. Her boyfriend at the time, Jack Nicholson, plays her cousin and former boyfriend, Charley Partanna, an enforcer for the Prizzi family who inadvisedly falls in love with a beautiful hit woman (Kathleen Turner in one of her better performances), resulting in a conflict of interests that threatens the Prizzi family which is headed up by Mae's grandfather Don Corrado.(William Hickey who was in his fifties at the time in his most memorable screen appearance).

The cast have great fun with their parts with Huston winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her delicious performance and Nicholson who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, although lacking the naturalness of a De Niro or Pacino, consistently amusing as a slow-witted Brooklyn hoodlum. One of the best things about Prizzi's Honor is that although a comedy, albeit a black one, Huston, whose experience with tongue-in-cheek crime capers goes back to The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Beat The Devil (1954) doesn't play it for easy laughs, and particularly in the latter stages when Charlie is called upon to show his loyalty to "the family" the film acquires a surprising deal of emotional substance thanks to Nicholson's fine performance.




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