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Prizzi's Honor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prizzi's Honor
Prizzis honor.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Huston
Screenplay by
Based on
Produced byJohn Foreman
CinematographyAndrzej Bartkowiak
Edited by
Music byAlex North
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
June 14, 1985
Running time
130 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million[1]
Box office$26.6 million [2]

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), Robert Loggia, John Randolph, CCH Pounder, Lawrence Tierney, and William Hickey. Stanley Tucci appears in a minor role, his film debut.

Prizzi's Honor was theatrically released on June 14, 1985, by 20th Century Fox. It received critical acclaim, praised for the performances of its cast (most notably that of Huston). However it was judged a box office disappointment, grossing only $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 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, 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."

Things come to a head in California when, acting as if everything were alright, Charley comes home to his wife. (A famous line from the movie, spoken by Charley, is "Do I ice her? Do I marry her? Which one of these?") 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.



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."[3] 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.


Critical response

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."[4]

Roger Ebert gave the film three and 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."[5]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Prizzi's Honor holds an 87% rating based on 38 reviews. The site's 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."[6]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards Best Picture John Foreman Nominated
Best Director John Huston Nominated
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Nominated
Best Supporting Actor William Hickey Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Anjelica Huston Won
Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium Richard Condon, Janet Roach Nominated
Best Costume Design Donfeld Nominated
Best Film Editing Rudi Fehr, Kaja Fehr Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best English-Language Film Won
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Best Supporting Actress Anjelica Huston Won
Best Director John Huston Won
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Anjelica Huston Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Richard Condon and Janet Roach Won
Casting Society of America Awards Best Casting for Feature Film – Comedy Alixe Gordin Won
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Producer John Foreman Nominated
Best Foreign Director John Huston Nominated
Best Foreign Actor Jack Nicholson Nominated
Best Foreign Screenplay Richard Condon and Janet Roach Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures John Huston Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Won
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Kathleen Turner Won
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Anjelica Huston Nominated
Best Director – Motion Picture John Huston Won
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Richard Condon and Janet Roach Nominated
Guild of German Art House Cinemas Best Foreign Film John Huston Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actress Anjelica Huston Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Actor Jack Nicholson Nominated
Best Supporting Actor William Hickey Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Anjelica Huston Won
Best Screenplay Richard Condon and Janet Roach Nominated
Nastro d'Argento Best Foreign Actor Jack Nicholson Nominated
Best Foreign Director John Huston Nominated
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 6th Place
Best Supporting Actress Anjelica Huston Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Film 2nd Place
Best Director John Huston Won
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Best Supporting Actor William Hickey 2nd Place
Best Supporting Actress Anjelica Huston Won
Best Screenplay Richard Condon and Janet Roach 4th Place
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Film Won
Best Director John Huston Won
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Best Supporting Actress Anjelica Huston Won
Sant Jordi Awards Best Foreign Actress Kathleen Turner (also for Crimes of Passion) Won
ShoWest Convention Female Star of the Year Kathleen Turner Won
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion John Huston Nominated
Special Lion for the Overall Work Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium Richard Condon and Janet Roach Won

American Film Institute


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p. 260
  2. ^ "Prizzi's Honor (1985)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  3. ^ Andrew Goldman (2019-04-29). "Anjelica Huston, In Conversation". Vulture. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  8. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees
  9. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot

External links

This page was last edited on 12 October 2021, at 23:26
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