Prizzi’s Honor (1985)

Prizzi's Honor (1985)

Taglines: Hired killers by day. Devoted lovers by night. Until they found their next assignment was each other.

The Prizzis are a powerful family of mobsters, as devoted to their code of honor as they are to bending laws and breaking skulls. Charley Partanna (Jack Nicholson), a Prizzi hit man, is not quite so honorable, at least where affairs of the heart are concerned. While attending a mob wedding, he throws over his longtime sweetheart Maerose Prizzi (Anjelica Huston) in favor of gorgeous Irene Walker (Kathleen Turner).

Supposedly a tax consultant, Irene is actually a paid killer like Charley–and this endears her to him all the more. But when it turns out that Irene has betrayed the Prizzis, Charley finds himself on the horns of a dilemma: does he kill Irene or marry her? Fortuitously, Irene helps Charley make up his mind by attempting to kill him. The film’s strongest suit is its matter-of-fact approach to Charley and Irene’s profession; in the movie’s most memorable scene, the two lovers calmly discuss their dinner plans while disposing of the corpse of their latest victim.

Prizzi's Honor (1985)

Prizzi’s Honor is a 1985 American comedy-drama film directed by John Huston. It stars Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner, with Robert Loggia and, in an Academy Award-winning performance, the director’s daughter Anjelica Huston. The film was adapted by Richard Condon and Janet Roach from Condon’s 1982 novel of the same name. Alex North’s score adapts the music of Giacomo Puccini and Gioachino Rossini.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Prizzi’s Honor won Best Supporting Actress for Huston’s daughter Anjelica, playing the “art imitates life” role of Nicholson’s cast-off girl friend. The win made Anjelica, John, and Walter Huston the only three generations of one family all to win Oscars.

About the Story

Charley Partanna is a hit man for a New York crime organization 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 after the end of her romance with Charley.

Prizzi's Honor (1985) - Kathleen Turner

Charley discovers that the mysterious woman, Irene, is a “contractor” who, like himself, performs assassinations for the mob. He flies to California to spend time with her and quickly falls in love. Unaware she is married, Charley also carries out a contract to kill Irene’s husband, Marksie Heller, for robbing a Nevada casino. She repays some of the money Marksie stole and in Mexico marries Charley.

Charley is unaware that Irene is suspected by the mob of having the rest of the money Marksie took. A jealous Maerose travels there 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.

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.”

Prizzi's Honor Movie Poster (1985)

Prizzi’s Honor (1985)

Directed by: John Huston
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, Robert Loggia, John Randolph, Anjelica Huston, William Hickey, Ann Selepegno
Screenplay by: Richard Condon
Production Design by: J. Dennis Washington
Cinematography by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Film Editing by: Kaja Fehr, Rudi Fehr
Costume Design by: Donfeld
Set Decoration by: Bruce Weintraub
Music by: Alex North
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 13, 1985