Julie Bovasso taught Jack Nicholson how to speak "Brooklynese". Researching the role, he hung out in lowlife dives in Brooklyn.
The studio, expecting the film to perform poorly at the box-office, pushed for a relatively quick release onto home video. However, the film was one of the "sleeper" hits of the season, thanks to terrific reviews and positive word of mouth, and had a lengthy stay in theatres, and was still in theatres, in fact, when it was released to video stores.
The yellow jacket that Jack Nicholson wears when he and Kathleen Turner are having a drink together was his own personal jacket. Anjelica Huston purchased the jacket for Nicholson.
John Huston is the only director to direct two members of his own family to win Academy Awards. The first was his father Walter Huston in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), who won Best Actor in a Supporting Role, then his daughter Anjelica Huston won Best Actress in Supporting Role for this movie.
There are reports that John Huston's continual advice to Jack Nicholson before takes was, "Remember, he's stupid."
John Huston's Best Director Academy Award nomination for this film made him the oldest ever to be Oscar nominated for directing. Huston was seventy-nine, and the record still stands as of August 2013.
This was the only "Prizzi" story to be adapted from one of Richard Condon's "Prizzi" novels.
John Huston was in very poor health with emphysema when he directed this movie. He required the use of an oxygen tank on the set to help him breathe.
After reading the script, Jack Nicholson initially turned down his role in this movie, because he thought it was too dark. He was told that the movie was a comedy and said "It's a comedy?", re-read the script, and took the part.
The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston; and four Oscar nominees: Robert Loggia, Kathleen Turner, William Hickey, and Stanley Tucci.
The only movie Jack Nicholson and then lover Anjelica Huston appeared in that was directed by Anjelica's dad John Huston. Both men only ever co-starred as the adversarial characters Jake Gittes & Noah Cross in Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974).
Anjelica Huston worked hard to get her characterization of a mafia daughter right. "It was up to us to get our accents down, so Jack [Nicholson] went to the Brooklyn betting shops and I went to a Brooklyn church." During preproduction she was in the costume department trying on a black designer dress from the fifties with a frilly taffeta piece that came over the shoulder. She told the designer it would be interesting to take off the ruffle and drape it in Schiaparelli pink. "Just then my father entered the room, and said, 'Well, what do you think about making the ruffle in Schiaparelli pink?' That was the moment I knew there was no separation in how we saw the character."
Screenwriter Janet Roach sent the book and the screenplay of this movie to John Huston.
On the poster for this movie, Jack Nicholson is shown smoking a cigarette. However, there are no scenes within the film of Nicholson smoking.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The voice that is heard saying "Maerose" off-camera when Anjelica Huston is putting make-up on her face in the scene when she tries to kill her father, is actually voiced by John Huston, who was Anjelica's real-life father.
One of the reasons why Jack Nicholson decided to star in this movie, was because he wanted to be directed by John Huston.
Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Ryan O'Neal, Christopher Reeve, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, and Jon Voight were considered for the role of Charley.
Rosanna Arquette, Linda Blair, Geena Davis, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Kelly LeBrock, Heather Locklear, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ally Sheedy, Emma Thompson, Sela Ward, and Debra Winger were considered for the part of Maerose.
Not only was this a family affair, with John Huston casting his daughter, Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson, but it was a reunion of sorts as well. Huston used old friends and co-workers: his former secretary, Ann Selepegno played the Don's wife; his first script girl on The Maltese Falcon (1941), Meta Rebner, was script supervisor, and Rudi Fehr, who was the editor on Key Largo (1948) came out of retirement.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
In the wedding reception scene, there is an instrumental version of the song Strangers in the Night.
Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson, who had lived together for several years, found that working together all day and going home to be together all night would be difficult, so they lived in different hotels while on location in Brooklyn. Said Anjelica, "I don't endorse the idea that actors should live their parts, but in spite of oneself, it sometimes does follow you home. There were elements of the hit-man in Jack at the time and I didn't want to be around him too much. Jack said that he generally dropped Charley Partanna [his character] toward dinnertime. I said that I often carried Maerose [her character] through to dessert."
When Charley and Irene are having a drink together, Charley only takes one sip of his drink.
This is the first film on which Lawrence Tierney has worked with a Cinematographer called Andrzej. He's Andrzej Bartkowiak. Tierney worked with Cinematographer Andrzej Sekula on Reservoir Dogs (1992). Incidentally, Jack Nicholson previously worked with Bartkowiak on Terms of Endearment (1983).
John Huston and writer Richard Condon, who wrote the novel on which this movie is based, plus co-wrote the screenplay, both have surnames that end with the letters "o-n", plus both surnames have six letters each.
Kristy McNichol, Tatum O'Neal, and Brooke Shields were considered for the role of Irene Walker.
John Huston and John Randolph previously worked together in the short film Independence(1976).