Prime Cut (1972) - Paramount Widescreen Region 2 PAL, English audio & subtitles
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Prime Cut (1972) - Paramount Widescreen Region 2 PAL, English audio & subtitles: Official Paramount Italian Region 2 PAL DVD release, as pictured but with Italian cover text. Aspect ratio 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (as made), colour. Full audio options: English 2.0 Stereo, French / Italian / Spanish 1.0 Mono. Full subtitle options: As audio, plus Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish; English HOH. Runtime 83 mins. A Chicago mob enforcer is sent to Kansas City to settle a debt with a cattle rancher who not only grinds his enemies into sausage, but sells women as sex slaves.
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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".
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.
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After Dirty Dozen, Lee Marvin was making some quirky, often dark movies. Prime Cut is such a weird slice of life, I've never been sure who to recommend it to. A Lee Marvin fan will certainly eat it up, but don't expect Cat Ballou or Point Blank. Marvin is a mob enforcer who has a code of honor as do his fellow henchmen. Or maybe it's that Gene Hackman's character is so evil practically anyone looks good next to him. Did I say he was evil? Gene could always play the villain, and he really locks it up this time. Ditto for his creepy, brutish brother. It seems director Ritchie is indicting the Sunbelt as a sinful wasteland as all the inhabitants seem evoke a sinister dark side. He emphasizes this with Hackman's thugs who are silent, blond, overall clad farmboys wielding shotguns and bloodlust. Marvin manages to lighten his grim task up with a twinkle in his eye now and then; just enough to let you know he's confident and competent to set things right. Give it a try, but be aware this is no kiddie show.