Wow it’s been nearly 4 years since I last saw a John Huston film – it was The Dead and I saw it a few months before starting this blog. As you would expect he has a few films on the 1001 list (8 in total) and after watching Prizzi’s Honor I am left with just Fat City and The Asphalt Jungle.
Compared to the other John Huston works I have seen Prizzi’s Honor is completely different tonally. I don’t think I have seen any film of his that would be considered a comedy (although some of the interactions in The African Queen are humourous) and this is nowhere near a straight comedy. It occupies that strange grey area of comedy-drama that makes a lot of us cinema lovers scratch their heads.
In a nutshell, Prizzi’s Honor is about a hit man for the Brooklyn Mafia (played by Jack Nicholson) who falls for a woman he sees at a wedding (a brilliant turn by Kathleen Turner). Things get complicated when it turns out she is also a contract killer and may be involved in a big theft from the Prizzi crime family. It sounds like Mr & Mrs Smith when you write it out like that, but it isn’t like it at all.
For me, the best scenes were any that featured Anjelica Huston as a disgraced daughter of the Prizzi family or William Hickey as Don Prizzi. So much excellent character work is done by these two in their supporting roles that the Prizzi family actually feel like a living, breathing entity. I cannot say the same of Jack Nicholson… but I’ve talked about those issues before.
Speaking of issues… the final scene in Prizzi’s Honor felt like a cheap addition. I’m not going to go into it because, you know, spoilers. But after everything that went down everyone just feels so casual that it undercuts the emotions that we just had to deal with. It should have just ended with the final bedroom scene and had us piece the aftermath together. Then again what do I know, I managed to sleep through Akira during my first watch.