11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2011
Finally released on region 2 DVD, "Prime Cut" is an unusual, darkly humorous, early 70's mob thriller. It is intelligently and wittily scripted, well directed (by Michael Ritchie) and very well acted by Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman. What sets it apart is that it is quirky without trying too hard i.e. it's not self-consciously trying to be clever, it's just effortlessly self-assured and entertaining. It has a maturity and laconic humour which most films these days can't hope to achieve. The Kansas settings are not the usual run-of-the mill locations of typical mob thrillers. The action is tough and uncompromising, but it's the dialogue and unusual character development which set it apart. The film takes time to show scenes which don't really advance the plot but show us more about characters e.g. Gene Hackman's character wrestling with his dim-witted brother; a milk-tasting competition in a country fair. Another bonus is the great music score by Lalo Schifrin and beautiful cinematography (by Gene Polito) of the landscape and cityscape. There's a particularly memorable scene where Marvin's character is in a car, racing purposefully along a dusty road through a farming landscape with threatening, grey rain clouds and lightning. The music and cinematography complement each other perfectly to give a sense of relentless purpose, menace and eerie beauty.
The sound and picture quality on this DVD release is excellent. A highly entertaining, tough, intelligent thriller with a sense of humour. It sits well with "Charley Varrick" and "The Outfit".
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
'70's tough guy films were just that. Tough guys in tough neighbourhoods shooting the wrong guys. Lee Marvin is one of those charismatically understated cool guys who you just have to watch.
Prime Cut is one of my all-time guilty pleasures. Compact in length, full of invention and visual quirkiness. But, largely, set on a farm, with an agricultural show going on?
Very loosely, it follows many drug/crime/revenge thrillers but behind the greenhouses of that almost other side of US life; agriculture. That staple of American institutions - food! Honest, wholesome, natural. We're not talking about hill-billies eating their own young and such stuff, but an almost believable organised vice crime behind an unlikely front.
OK, I'm biased, having being brought up on a farm, where the sort of death by invention that transferred so well in Terminator etc goes beyond even my imagination. And, I've never seen a combine harvester do what it does here (enough said).
What makes it far more than a near horror flick is the human story, turning the action into a far deeper experience. I couldn't help falling for Sissy Spacek whose dreamy narcosis harks back to 1960's Peace & Love but the seedy intonations are far more creepy. As rich men looking for sex have always done, morals fly out of the window. To me, also, Marvin mirrors Michael Caine in another favourite of mine, "Get Carter", which turns from a routine revenge-for-killing into something far more personable and, almost, touching. Then, full scale, cat and mouse revenge!
At times, it does seem a bit chauvinistic but that "was" US crime thrillers of the '70s. The multicoloured suits, hairstyles and gas guzzlers all luridly illuminated by an offbeat directing talent with a refreshingly different backdrop will, as it did me for many years, remain in the memory long after the forgettable title did.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I rather liked this weird, shocking and less than half-serious 1972 crime film, even if it is not exactly a masterpiece. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.
Irish mob bosses from Chicago have a problem - one of their business partners, known as Mary Ann (Gene Hackman) owes them money - in fact A LOT of money - and not only he obstinately refuses to pay, but treats most unkindly all those who are send to collect. Mary Ann lives on a farm near Kansas City and officially makes his money in cattle slaughtering and meat packaging, but in fact he is a dangeorus and vicious crime lord, ruling his rural neighborhood almost as a feodal duke.
Having received loud and clear (by mail) Mary Ann's latest unequivocal (and, in a way, very tasty) refusal to pay, Chicago mob bosses decide to send in another crew of debt collectors - this time more numerous and especially headed by a particularly vicious enforcer, Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin). Other than 50.000 dollars fee Devlin is also incited to take this offer by the oportunity of revenge - indeed, between him and Mary Ann there is considerable beef (sorry, I couldn't resist)... And then the film really begins.
This film mixes elements of:
- gangster movie, as there is lots of gangsters
- film noir, as there is a femme not only fatale but "très fatale"
- western, as there are gunfights and chases in a very rural environment, and also lots of chattel (both four and two legged), shotguns and hats,
- parody, as the two bad guys, both "muy macho", are called Mary Ann and Weenie...))) Also, the wife of the main villain, who as we remember has a cattle slaughterhouse and meat packing business, is named Clarabelle...)))...)))...)))
- soft porn, as for most of the film young Sissy Spacek, for whom it was the first role ever and who is cute like a button and delicious as a damsel in distress, runs completely naked, full frontal included... We also learn a lot about intimate life of little orphan girls who never saw a man in their life...)))
- promotion of vegetarianism because CLASSIFIED TO AVOID SPOILERS - but believe me, you will probably not want a steak or a sausage for some time after watching "Prime Cut"
- child movie (SPOILER WARNING HERE), as at one moment murderous gangsters with machine guns will mount on the white horse (OK, in fact get in a black car - but metaphorically speaking it is true) to save a virgin princess kept in a tower by two ogres and later a lot of poor orphans kept prisoners by a bad, bad, bad lady...
As we can see, the coctail is indeed exotic and sometimes surrealistic - in fact it reminded me a little bit of Quentin Tarantino scenarios...
This film contains some deliberately very shocking scenes, including a slave auction - it certainly made a splash in 1972 - all rhytmed by a very good musical score by Lalo Shifrin. Action scenes however aged a lot and are rather boring and the great finale showdown is very, very disappointing. Dialogs are a mixture of good one liners and smart come backs, but also sadly some banalities. Finally, actions of the bad guys finally don't make much sense and for that reason the frontal shock between Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman doesn't deliver as much as it could be expected.
But still it is an interesting film, with two excellent actors, a cute (and naked) damsel in distress, some shocking moments, some good dialogs, a femme (très) fatale and, let's say it again, a lot of beef...))) ENJOY!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2014
Have never forgotten this film since I first saw it about 40 years ago. Lee Marvin is perfectly cast, in possibly his best ever role, it is a true good guy versus bad guy movie, where two ruthless individuals clash. Gene Hackman meet Lee Marvin. Gene Hackman's character is an odious individual and you are immediately on Lee Marvin's side as being just the man to sort him out. But it will not be easy because all the odds are stacked against him. The music is great and really adds to the tension. There are some really unpleasant scenes in this film which I'd rather not have seen but they are essential to the plot and make you desperate for Lee Marvin to exact revenge for the victims.