Prizzi's Honor

Dir: John Huston
Star: Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, Anjelica Huston, William Hickey

I fear I may have missed the point of this one. Either that, or the term "black comedy" meant something radically different in 1985. Not to say that this is entirely without merit; but as comedies go, I've had funnier bouts of gas. [Eight Oscar nominations? Must have been a particularly poor year in Hollywood.] Charley Partana (Nicholson) is a Mafia hitman who falls for a mysterious woman (Turner), that he sees at a family wedding. However, she turns out both to have ripped-off three-quarters of a million dollars from the mobsters, and hired by one of Partana's rivals to kill him. Meanwhile, Charley's former fiancee (Huston), the black sheep of the Prizzi clan, yearns to be accepted back into the family.

These are the kinds of roles the two leads could do in their sleep. And they largely appear to have done so here: Nicholson, the smart-aleck, and Turner, the smoldering femme fatale. Still, despite the lack of effort, both are not painful to watch, though the script is nowhere near as cynical as it should be, given the premise. Partly as a result, the film is stolen by Huston [whose Oscar was, I'll admit, well deserved] and William Hickey as the decrepit yet stubborn head of the Prizzi family, who refuses to let anything compromise a hard-won reputation, even if it's his own grand-daughter. Either of these characters would probably have made for a more interesting exercise. As is, the story never achieves heights greater than 'mildly diverting' and the central performances aren't able to push this any higher. Eight Oscar nominations. Really...

January 2008

No honor among thieves
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