Prizzi's Honor

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.

Prizzi's Honor
Theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Huston
Produced byJohn Foreman
Screenplay byRichard Condon
Janet Roach
Based onPrizzi's Honor
by Richard Condon
Music byAlex North
CinematographyAndrzej Bartkowiak
Edited byKaja Fehr
Rudi Fehr
Distributed by20th Century Fox (United States)
Producers Sales Organization (International)
Release date
  • June 13, 1985 (1985-06-13)
Running time
130 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million[1]
Box office$26,657,534 (US)[2]

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.


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.

Charley flies to California to carry out a contract to kill a man named Marksie Heller for robbing a Nevada casino. He is surprised to learn that Marksie is the estranged husband of Irene, the woman from the wedding. She repays some of the money Marksie 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 all right, Charley comes home to his wife. (A famous line from the movie, spoken by Charley, is "Do I marry her? Do I ice 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, beating both Nicholson and her father in their respective nominations for Best Actor and Best Director.


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]

On Rotten Tomatoes Prizzi's Honor holds an 86% rating based on 35 reviews.[5]


Academy Awards

The film won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Huston).

It was also nominated for:

American Film Institute

Golden Globes


  • Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical
  • Golden Globe for Best Director (John Huston)
  • Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical (Nicholson)
  • Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Comedy/Musical (Turner)


  • Golden Globe for Best Supporting Performance by an Actress (Anjelica Huston)
  • Golden Globe for Best Screenplay


  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.
  5. AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  6. AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees
  7. AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
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