|Directed by||John Huston|
|Based on||Prizzi's Honor|
by Richard Condon
|Produced by||John Foreman|
|Music by||Alex North|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$26.6 million|
Prizzi's Honor is a 1985 American black comedy crime film directed by John Huston, starring Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner as two highly skilled mob assassins who, after falling in love, are hired to kill each other. The screenplay co-written by Richard Condon is based on his 1982 novel of the same name. The film's supporting cast includes Anjelica Huston (the director's daughter and Nicholson's then-girlfriend), Robert Loggia, John Randolph, CCH Pounder, Lawrence Tierney, and William Hickey. Stanley Tucci appears in a minor role in his film debut. It was the last of John Huston's films to be released during his lifetime.
Prizzi's Honor was theatrically released on June 14, 1985, by 20th Century Fox. It received critical acclaim, with praise for the performances of its cast (most notably Huston). It grossed $26 million against its $16 million budget.
The film received eight nominations at the 58th Academy Awards (including for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay) with Huston winning for Best Supporting Actress. The film also won four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for Nicholson and Turner, respectively.
Charley Partanna is a hitman for a New York Mafia family headed by the elderly Don Corrado Prizzi, whose business is generally handled by his sons Dominic and Eduardo and by his longtime right-hand man, Angelo, who is Charley's father.
At a family wedding, Charley is quickly infatuated with a beautiful non-Italian woman he doesn't recognize. He asks Maerose Prizzi, estranged daughter of Dominic, if she recognizes the woman, oblivious to the fact that Maerose still has feelings for Charley, having once been his lover. Maerose is in disfavor with her father for running off with another man before the end of her romance with Charley.
Charley flies to California to carry out a contract to kill a man named Marxie Heller for robbing a Nevada casino. He is surprised to learn that Marxie is the estranged husband of Irene Walker, the woman from the wedding. She repays some of the money Marxie stole as Charley naively (or willfully) believes that Irene was not involved with the casino scam. By this point they have fallen in love and eventually travel to Mexico to marry. A jealous Maerose travels west on her own to establish for a fact that Irene has double-crossed the organization. The information restores Maerose to good graces somewhat with her father and the don. Charley's father later reveals that Irene (who had claimed to be a tax consultant) is a "contractor" who, like Charley, performs assassinations for the mob.
Dominic, acting on his own, wants Charley out of the way and hires someone to do the hit, not knowing that he has just given the job to Charley's own wife. Angelo sides with his son, and Eduardo is so appalled by his brother's actions that he helps set up Dominic's permanent removal from the family.
Irene and Charley team up on a kidnapping that will enrich the family, but she shoots a police captain's wife in the process, endangering the organization's business relationship with the cops. The don is also still demanding a large sum of money from Irene for her unauthorized activities in Nevada, which she doesn't want to pay. In time, the don tells Charley that his wife's "gotta go."
Matters come to a head in California when, acting as if everything were alright, Charley comes home to his wife. Each pulls a weapon simultaneously in the bedroom. Irene ends up dead, and Charley ends up back in New York, missing her, but consoled by Maerose.
- Jack Nicholson as Charley Partanna
- Kathleen Turner as Irene Walkervisks / Irene Walker
- Anjelica Huston as Maerose Prizzi
- Robert Loggia as Eduardo Prizzi
- John Randolph as Angelo "Pop" Partanna
- William Hickey as Don Corrado Prizzi
- Lee Richardson as Dominic Prizzi
- Michael Lombard as Rosario Filangi / Robert Finlay
- CCH Pounder as "Peaches" Altamont
- George Santopietro as Plumber
- Ann Selepegno as Amalia Prizzi
- Lawrence Tierney as Lieutenant Hanley
- Vic Polizos as Phil Vittimizzare
- Dick O'Neil as Bluestone
- Sully Boyar as Casco Vasorne
- Raymond Heller as Sal Bocca
- Joseph Ruskin as Marxie Heller
- Seth Allen as Alvin Gomsky
- Dominic Barto as Presto Cigilone
- Raymond Serra as Bocca
- Stanley Tucci as Soldier
As well as working with his actress daughter, John Huston hired Meta Carpenter Wilde, the script supervisor who worked with him on The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Rudi Fehr, his film editor from Key Largo (1948).
Anjelica Huston was paid the SAG-AFTRA scale rate of $14,000 for her role in Prizzi's Honor. When her agent called up the movie's producer to request if she could be paid more, she was told "Go to hell. Be my guest—ask for more money. We don't even want her in this movie." Huston, who was not only John Huston's daughter but also Jack Nicholson's girlfriend at the time, wrote in her 2014 memoir Watch Me that she later overheard a production worker saying, "Her father is the director, her boyfriend's the star, and she has no talent." She would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
A 25-year-old Stanley Tucci made his film debut in Prizzi's Honor, playing the minor role of a mafia goon.
On Rotten Tomatoes, Prizzi's Honor holds an approval rating of 85% based on 40 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site's critics consensus states: "Disturbing and sardonic, Prizzi's Honor excels at black comedy because director John Huston and his game ensemble take the farce deadly seriously." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 84 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Pauline Kael wrote: "This John Huston picture has a ripe and daring comic tone. It revels voluptuously in the murderous finagling of the members of a Brooklyn Mafia family, and rejoices in their scams. It's like The Godfather acted out by The Munsters. Jack Nicholson's average-guyness as Charley, the clan's enforcer, is the film's touchstone: this is a baroque comedy about people who behave in ordinary ways in grotesque circumstances, and it has the juice of everyday family craziness in it." Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote: "This is the most bizarre comedy in many a month, a movie so dark, so cynical and so funny that perhaps only Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner could have kept straight faces during the love scenes."
Awards and nominations
American Film Institute
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated (Gangster Film)
- Solomon, Aubrey (1988). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Scarecrow Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0810842441.
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- "AFI's 100 Years…100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). AFI. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 13, 2011.
- "AFI's Top 10 Ballot" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 11, 2011.
- "James Coburn, Danny Aiello, Sandra Bernhard and..." Los Angeles Times. June 17, 1990. Retrieved July 8, 2023.