on 26 August 2011
One of those semi-forgotten Classic Hollywood-era movies (although a bit late, 1981 I think) when there were talented directors being given free reign to make intelligent, beautiful films - tense and suspensful too. Before everything became about genres and MTV-style editing and overblown pretentious tosh like Babel passed for, er, intelligent and beautiful.
If you'd rather watch Chinatown than Star Wars then you can't go wrong for a fiver. Bridges is pitch-perfect - pretty unsympathetic womanising moocher who gives new meaning to the concept of reluctant hero, yet so compelling and real. Also, it's worth noting, sporting amazing hair and 'tache. Heard, who most people will probably recognise as the rather anonymous dad in Home Alone, or the brilliantly childish exec in Big - gives a great, and for him quite atypical performance - another unsympathetic character who frustrates as much as he endears. Lisa Eichorn, an actor I'm not terribly familiar with, is equally brilliant in her portrayal of a sad, pathetic, beautiful alcoholic. By the 90s, the protagonists would have probably been played as loveable rogues with an endless supply of Bruce Willis one-liners, but the characters, scenes and pace are so real - which might put modern audiences off a bit, but I loved it anyway.
Czech director Ivan Passer's neglected 1981 classic Cutter's Way is a story of political intrigue, murder and tragedy. Jeff Bridge's Richard Bone witnesses the dumping of a dead (murdered) body and finds himself caught up in a web of suspicion and intrigue which leads inextricably to local business big-wig J.J.Cord. Bone enlists the help of his friend, disabled Vietnam veteran Alex Cutter (John Heard) in his search for the truth and justice.
Cutter's way captures US angst in the post-Vietnam and Watergate era perfectly, and, in the plot contrivance of the local 'untouchable' tycoon being pursued in the name of justice, and indeed of its pervading sense of corruption, is reminiscent of that Hollywood masterpiece of all masterpieces Chinatown. Jeff Bridges provides a solid performance as the ladies' man Bone, but without ever reaching the high-points he achieved in his career best turns in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Last Picture Show and The Fabulous Baker Boys. John Heard, on the other hand, is an absolute revelation here giving a career-best performance in his portrayal of the angry and, ultimately, tragic character of Cutter. Heard has been something of a lost talent and I can't remember seeing any other performances of note by him (maybe aside from his Jack Kerouac in Heartbeat and his minor role in the Sopranos). Also worthy of mention is Lisa Eichhorn as Cutter's long-suffering, alcoholic wife Mo, who is struggling to come to terms with her apparently meaningless existence.
Capped by a great Jack Nitzche score, this is certainly one of the best films of the 80s.
on 7 April 2010
Many people regard the star of this excellent film to be Jeff Bridges and, in fairness to him, he acts his role well in this amateur detective story. But for me, John Heard is immense as the embittered, and disabled war veteran who, frustrated with life, just wants to get even with those who avoided the Vietnam war draft. He respects nobody and fears nobody as he single-handedly pursues wealthy magnate Stephen Elliot for the murder of a young escort. There's a good deal of comedy and humour in this film, some of it (notably that delivered by Alex Cutter) politically incorrect and unacceptable in today's society, but the script is a masterpiece.
on 1 January 2007
This 1981 film from Ivan Passer is relatively uncomplex in terms of story and direction and would be otherwise unremarkable were it not for the powerhouse leads of Jeff Bridges and, particularly, John Heard.
Heard, who is usually seen portraying slimy yuppies and establishment types, puts in one of the best performances i've ever seen as a frazzled, alcoholic yet strangely magnetic Vietnam veteran. He's like a Tom Waits song come to life!
Highly enjoyable and extremely reasonable price, although it's a shame there are no real extras on this DVD. I would love to have heard what Heards feelings towards the film were.
Watching this criminally neglected film from 1981, and not knowing any better, you would assume that John Heard and Lisa Eichhorn were, at the very least, nominated for Oscars for their career-best performances as a one-eyed, one-legged Vietnam war veteran named Cutter and his forlorn but still feisty alcoholic wife, Mo. Not a bit of it. For what it`s worth - and it`s worth a lot to Americans - Oscar never got so much as a sniff at this great little film. That`s a shame and a disgrace.
Heard hasn`t been out of work since his film debut in 1975, but rarely receives the honours his talent deserves. Here he`s utterly brilliant, with his eyepatch, gruff voice, eloquently versatile one eye, short stature, and piratical demeanour. It`s one of the most magnetic performances of its day, and none other than Jeff Bridges (one of my favourite actors) who is billed first in the credits, can only sit back and watch Heard steal scene after scene from under the dude`s nose. Except it doesn`t work like that: acting isn`t a race or a competition, and Bridges is superb too, in a lead role as the self-regarding, complacent Bone who is nonetheless subservient to Heard`s hard-drinking, anti-social, cynical yet ultimately responsible Cutter.
And Lisa Eichhorn, a New York-born, RADA-trained actress whose career has been sporadic to say the least, is pitch-perfect in a role she seizes with open arms. She`s unforgettable in the faded dignity of her sad degradation, taken for granted by Cutter, loved by Bone. These three friends go back a long way...
The love scene between Eichhorn and Bridges is one of the least explicit, most subversively moving I have ever seen in an American film. It`s barely a `love scene` at all. There isn`t all that much love at all in this wan film, though Cutter`s angry bluster is a kind of love of life gone wrong.
The plot as such is minimal. Bone, on his way back from a one-night stand with a society wife in Santa Barbara, the marine town where the film is set, witnesses a gruesome murder, or at least he sees the car driven by the man who may well have been the murderer. The police take Bone in for questioning. He tells Cutter about it. Cutter is now on a mission: to find the rich man responsible, and make him pay. He cuts a swathe through Santa Barbara and through the rest of the film, leaving Bone and the angry-sad Mo floundering in his drink-fuelled wake.
I`ve only seen this film twice in my life, soon after its release and now just over thirty years later. It has only grown in stature. Though made in `81, it looks and feels like a 70s film, which it essentially is. Czech-born director Ivan Passer - 80 next year, and whose career has been even more disjointed than Eichhorn`s - brings an outsider`s eye to the minutiae of American life, much in the same way as did his compatriot Milos Forman, or Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog back in the 70s.
If you`re a Jeff Bridges fan as I am, you`ll need to see this film, but he isn`t the only reason to seek it out. Heard and Eichhorn are stunning, and Passer`s film deserves to be seen and applauded as long as people watch neglected, out-of-the-way movies like this.
Post Watergate and Vietnam this noir thriller was the last of its kind rich in the counter-culture's eccentricity to the have-nots who lost out.This is The Sun Also Rises of the Lost Generation of the 70s,high on drugs,booze and paranoid blues. Cutter's Way, a subversive masterpiece,is emotionally dense and intellectually incoherent.After Bone(Jeff Bridges),a Santa Barbara gigolo,spots a man stuffing a girl's body into a trash can one stormy night,he and his friend,Cutter(John Heard),set out to expose the culprit,tentatively identified as a fat cat oil tycoon, JJ Cord.Stern retribution against the powers that never pay for their mistakes is demanded by Cutter,a horribly mutilated Vietnam veteran who hounds the tycoon to his doom,guilty or not.In his quixotic quest for justice,Cutter is gradually transformed,one legged and all,into an Ahab pursuing his Moby Dick.For this little triangle of characters,including the mysterious Mo, Cutter's alcoholic wife(Einhorn),these are the Last Days of their way of life.There is a sense of ending in every frame of C.W.The American New Wave had passed with their dirty cocktail of social protest,youth culture empowerment and energy and political agitation.The three minnows threshing desperately to avoid being engulfed,caught in a nightmarish personal triangle of extraordinary,constantly shifting complexity,rippling with secrecies and ambivalent emotions that are hard to define.
Made by émigré Czech director,Ivan Passer,a man who knew about fighting against overwhelming dark forces(cf.Prague Spring).He uses all the modes of cinematic storytelling,light and shadow,the grungily specific Americana,the palpable aura of rueful helplessness,the clever use of late sunlight,the use of characters who don't represent us,but are fiercely themselves,with their primal need to do the right thing.We mourn what America might have been,the tanks of Reaganism now on the lawn.Marvellous music by Jack Nitzche,amazing performances by Heard,Bridges and Eichhorn in one of the key films of the decade.Now re-released,let it garner all the praise it never got on 1st release,buried by the era of Lucasian and Speilbergian block-busters and new infantilism.
on 2 July 2011
Can't improve upon the previous excellent review. But, having just re-watched the film after several years, and feeling once again moved, I am compelled to add my few words of praise for this seemingly under-rated masterpiece.
The three lead performances are outstanding, and in particular those of the raging and damaged Vietnam veteran played by John Heard and the desperately sad, poignantly tragic, and utterly convincing Mo (his long-suffering wife) played by Lisa Eichhorn. Watching her melts the heart, brings tears to the eyes and makes you think of those times in life when you've felt raw pain, loss, emptiness, or struggled vainly in search of purpose or meaning.
The tone is dark and moody, enhanced by the memorable and haunting zither music. There's anger, resentment and paranoia after the scars left by the Vietnam War and Watergate affair. The veteran charges in single-minded pursuit of evil and representatives of those he feels have ruined his life, whilst affluent America carries on regardless, and largely doesn't care.
Apparently the film died a death on release due to a New York Times review. Subsequent reviews have become more favourable, but it was too late for any significant revival.
It is unusual, sensitive, passionately acted, portentous, full of foreboding, and will remain with you for some time.
on 3 October 2014
Why couldn't John Heard ever repeat this acting 'tour de force'. Some may say over the top, but not me.
And Lisa Eichhorn was never better than as his resigned tragic wife.
Jeff Bridge's plays his cool dude sidekick foil to perfection.
The opening title/music ofr the Santa Barbara parade is etched in my memory for the first viewing,
on 29 April 2016
Some films are timeless; some others “age”, and Cutter’s Way belongs to the latter. Acting is mediocre, the story plot is hackneyed, and it really doesn't tell you much about the time when this story takes place. It purports to be some criticism about power and impunity, but it is all rather contrived.
Led to believe that this was a lost classic. I would say that was stretching it, but it is certainly a curio for film fans. John H is deliciously over the top as a war vet with an eye patch, one leg and a drink problem. Not quite Johnny Depp in Pirates but certainly there are echoes, without the comedy. Jeff B is young, handsome and displaying the acting chops that have helped him maintain such a long and varied career over the years. The story, well it's an odd mix of paranoid 70s conspiracy and 80s monied drama. It has some good moments, but watching it I understand why it isn't often quoted as one to watch.