Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Prizzi's Honor (1985)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Prizzi's Honor (1985)

In Oscar-nominated director John Huston's dark romantic black comedy and sleeper hit about questionable loyalties, adapted from Richard Condon's early 1980s novel, about two ill-fated married lovers (who were both hired assassins):

  • there were three brief prologues: (1) the birth of newborn son Charley to Angelo 'Pop' Partanna (John Randolph), (2) young Charley as a Boy Scout at Christmas excitedly opening up a gift of brass knuckles, and (3) Charley's formal swearing in ceremony to the 'family' with a blood oath: ("We're one, until death. We'll protect you, so much you protect Prizzi's honor")
  • Charley Partanna (Oscar-nominated Jack Nicholson) was a dim-witted, dutiful, and dedicated Mafia member who was initiated into the brotherhood as a proud, and loyal 'hit man' for the Prizzi family, led by his grandfather - patriarch Don Corrado Prizzi (William Hickey)
  • there was a flash-forward to the sequence of a family wedding, prefaced by a pull-back from a stained glass cathedral window (to the sound of "Ave Maria"); one of the Don's grand-daughters - the daughter of one of his sons, Dominic Prizzi (Lee Richardson), was getting married; other characters were introduced in attendance in the pews: the aging and wizened Don Corrado ("a legend to his people") and Charley, as well as the return of Charley's spurned cousin and scandalous ex-fiancee Maerose Prizzi (Oscar-winning Anjelica Huston) - she was the Don's shunned and estranged grand-daughter (the daughter of Dominic) who had run off with another man to Mexico and had been exiled outside of Brooklyn- she was considered a "whore"
Introduction of Characters at the Wedding

Don Corrado Prizzi (William Hickey)
Maerose Prizzi (Anjelica Huston)

Charley Partanna (Jack Nicholson)

Dominic Prizzi (Lee Richardson)
  • Charley first viewed beautiful and sultry blonde, non-Italian (Polish), Los Angeles-bred Irene Walker (Kathleen Turner); he spotted her wearing a lavender silk dress in the church balcony and danced with her at the wedding reception, before she suddenly vanished to take a pay phone call and he was unable to get her name (later, it was revealed that she was an out-of-town paid 'contractor' or tax consultant who performed a hit job for Dominic on rival Sally Turbino during the ceremony so that he would have an alibi)
  • the next day, Charley flew across country and had a lunch date with Irene in California - even though she told him she had an estranged husband who left 4 years earlier ("I don't know where he is. I don't wanna know"), Charley professed his love for her ("I'm a grown man, middle aged maybe even, but nothin' - nobody in my life has ever affected me anything like the way that you make me feel. I love you. That's it. That's everything. I love you"); Charley argued with her after she responded: ("I think I'm in love with you too, Charley) - claiming that "in love" was only "temporary"; she changed her wording and affirmed: "I love you, Charley"

Sex and a Marriage Proposal
Irene's and Charley's Lunch Date in California
  • after lunch, they had energetic, rolling-around sex, when Charley proposed marriage while in her arms: "Everything being equal, would you marry me?", and Irene accepted: "Everything being equal, I'd marry you tonight"
  • upon his return to New York, Charley was then commissioned to fly to California to take care of a hit job - to kill Marxie Heller (Joseph Ruskin) who was involved in a husband-wife heist of money from a Las Vegas casino where he worked in which the Prizzi family had an interest; at Heller's home, he broke Heller's wrist (and then quipped: "You won't need it") and then shot him dead with two shots in the garage (off-screen) and put him in the trunk of his car; he then awaited Mrs. Heller's return home from the supermarket - to his shock, Irene was Marxie's wife ("You married to Marxie Heller?")
  • Charley confronted Irene: "Where's the money that your husband and Louis Palo scammed from the Prizzi's in Las Vegas?" - Irene lied - claiming that she was planning to seek a divorce from Marxie (who was sick with TB) and that she had no part in the scam; Charley threatened but was reluctant to off her: "I can't change the way I feel about you. I look at you and I see what I wanna see. That's what love is. If you were anybody else, I'd blow you away. But I can't. I have to believe this"; Charley was able to recover only half of the money ($360,000) from the heist from Irene
  • after flying home from Los Angeles, Charley showed his father 'Pop' Angelo a picture of his new love in California - Irene, that he had met at the wedding; to his stunned surprise, 'Pop' burned Charley's picture of Irene as he explained who she was - a hired contract killer in the same business as Charley, who had performed the hit-job during the wedding: "She was the outside power we brought in the day of the wedding to make the Turbino hit. She was a speciality hitter"
  • immediately late that night, Charley questioned his longtime sweetheart and ex-fiancee - black sheep, malevolently witty cousin Maerose; he began by telling her they had wasted four years together; Maerose: "Four years - you call that a lot of time? How come you didn't wait till I was 50?" Charley: "You could have been a fat wop broad by the time you were 50" - she proposed having sex ("Do you wanna do it?") - and they proceeded to have sex on the carpet (off-screen): (Charley: "With all the lights on?" Maerose: "Yeah, right here on the Oriental, with all the lights on")
  • early the next morning, Charley confided in Maerose about his problems with a woman - should he murder or marry Irene?: ("I met her in a church. It just happened. I knew she was the woman for me. She'd organized the scam in Vegas. I go lookin' for the bad guy and it turns out to be my woman, can you imagine this? Not only that. Pop tells me she's the piece man for the Nettabino contract. But just the same. I love her Mae. I love her....Do I ice her? Do I marry her? Which one of these?")
  • Maerose replied: ("Marry her, Charley. Just because she's a thief and a hitter doesn't mean she's not a good woman in all the other departments. If she was some kind of fashion model, well, it wouldn't last more than thirty days. But you and she is in the same line of business. You are lucky you found each other. You know that, Charley? She's an American. She had a chance to make a buck so she grabbed it. Marry her Charley, and at least I'll be able to get something out of it. I'll be able to go back in the family") - it would be a way for the spurned Maerose to work her way back - and become jealously vengeful to get rid of Charley's new wife

Charley: "Do I ice her? Do I marry her? Which one of these?"
Maerose: "Marry her, Charley"
  • when Charley returned to California to divulge what he knew about Irene, she adamantly denied involvement in the Las Vegas scam (although she was lying): "I had nothing to do with it, nothing"; Charley decided to unwisely change allegiances and quickly marry Irene in Mexico after driving across the border; while awaiting their marriage license, when Irene spoke about her ex-husband Marxie, Charley quipped: "Marxie Heller is so f--kin' smart, how come he's so f--kin' dead?"
  • the Prizzi family, led by the Don and son Eduardo (Robert Loggia), plotted to kidnap corrupt bank manager Robert Finlay / aka Rosario Filargi (Michael Lombard) and then demand a ransom, because Finlay was stealing from the bank via foreign exchange deals (the Prizzi family owned a 25% share of the bank); Charley ill-advisedly picked his lover Irene to work together in NY to kidnap Finlay; during the abduction, Irene shot Finlay's bodyguard (as planned) and also a witness to the kidnapping (Victoria Calhain, the wife of an influential NYC police captain)
  • the Don delivered a memorable but innocent and ominous question to Maerose, who had recently been welcomed back into the family: "Hey, you like to have a cookie?" - she was there to provide incriminating evidence against Charley's new wife
  • there were a number of twists: (1) the Don confided in Charley that he would be replacing Dominic as the new boss (although it was a possible set-up), while Dominic would be transferred to Las Vegas, (2) Irene confessed that she lied to Charley about her involvement in the heist - she had actually killed Louis Palo and taken all the money, but only given back half of it, (3) the Don promised Irene that she would be spared if she returned the second half of the money plus 50% interest, (4) according to Irene, Dominic had hired her to eliminate Charley, (5) Irene suggested that she and Charley flee overseas to Hong Kong to start fresh and get "new prints, even new faces in a few days", and (6) Charley's 'Pop' suggested that Charley re-kidnap Finlay and hold him as ransom for leverage
  • the Don was extremely concerned about the killing because there were too many resulting repercussions, including the police's crack down on the mob: ("This killing of the police captain’s wife is costing us ALL TOO MUCH")
  • Charley was tasked by the Don and his father ('Pop') to eliminate Irene, his wife:
    - 'Pop': "You should never have married a woman who wasn't in the environment. That wasn't smart."
    - Don: "She gotta go. And you gotta do the job on her, Charley. You're the only one who can get close enough to do it....Now Charley, you swore an oath of blood, my blood and yours, that you would always put the family before anything else in your life. We are calling on you now to keep that sacred oath."
    - Charley: "Irene is my family. She's my wife."
    - 'Pop': "Charley, she is a woman you have known only for a few weeks. She is your wife. We are your life."
    - Don: "She is a hitter and a thief. You must give her to us"
  • Charley finally assented to their wishes: "The family. It's the only place I can be, I know that"

The Don's Suggestion About Irene: "She gotta go"

Charley's Disagreement: "She's my wife"
  • Charley met up with Irene for a shocking unusual 'love scene' - it turned out to be a double-crossing confrontational bedroom scene in Los Angeles, when Charley brought Irene the $900K she was owed by the Prizzi family; she happily told Charley: "Baby, we are gonna have a ball!"; having changed into an enticing silky nightgown, she also deviously offered: "Why don't you go warm up the bed? I'll be right there," but then attached a clip and a silencer to her revolver; in the bedroom, Charley also readied a sleek stiletto knife that he kept taped to his right leg; when she entered the room, she took a shooting stance, aimed at Charley and shot, but missed (the bullet struck the feather pillow behind him); he hurled his knife at her, sending it into her throat and pinning her to the wall; he drove to LAX with her body stuffed into the trunk

Irene With Revolver

Charley With Stiletto
Pinned Through Neck Into Wall
  • afterwards back in NYC, Charley phoned Maerose Prizzi, his dirty-dealing, ex-fiancee and asked her for a dinner date: ("Whaddya ya say, uh, we go to dinner tonight...What do I mean? I mean let's go someplace and get somethin' to eat...Just you and me"); she was overjoyed when he told her that Irene couldn't join them: "She had to go away. She won't be back. How about it?"; Maerose responded with the film's final line of dialogue: "How about it? Holy cow, Charley. Just tell me where you wanna meet."

Charley's Blood Oath to Prizzi "Family"

Charley's First View of Irene in the Balcony

Charley at the Wedding Reception with Irene

Charley Confronting Marxie Heller - Before Killing Him

Irene was Marxie's Wife!

Charley to Irene: "Where's the money?"

Charley to Irene: "If you were anybody else, I'd blow you away"

Charley's 'Pop' Burning Irene's Picture

Maerose to Charley: "Do you wanna do it?"

"Yeah, right here on the Oriental. With all the lights on"

Irene's Denail: "I had nothing to do with it, nothing"

Charley and Irene's Marriage in Mexico

Kidnapping Plan Described by Eduardo

The Kidnapping - Irene's Botched Killing of Police Captain's Wife

Don to Maerose: "Hey, you like to have a cookie?"

Irene's Suggestion to Charley to Flee to Hong Kong

A Long Overdue Dinner Date with Maerose


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