A vicious Kansas City slaughterhouse owner and his hick family are having a bloody "beef" with the Chicago crime syndicate over profits from their joint illegal operations. Top enforcer Nick Devlin is sent to straighten things out.
Tucker is a chronic underachiever and a loser. A Vietnam war veteran who just can't seem to keep out of trouble, in the years since his discharge. The only thing he got out of the war was ... See full summary »
Major Charles Rane comes back from the war and is given a number of gifts from his hometown because he is a war hero. Some greedy thugs decide that they want to steal a number of silver ... See full summary »
Tommy Lee Jones,
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. Written by
Brian J. Wright <email@example.com>
When Nick enters the cornfield there's a spot on the back of his jacket. Next scene the strap on the pouch is covering it. See more »
I never knew a man before; not even to talk to.
Well where did they keep you?
In the orphanage with the other girls.
And where was that?
It was in Missouri. It's the only home I really remember. It was in the country.
Then you have nobody?
Violet, the other girl that was with me. She's my sister... well, not truly but we're closer than that. Violet and me we'd climb into each other's bed when it was really cold in the winter time and hug each other really close. Sometimes we'd...
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Pretty Neat and Chic, but Within the Confines of Cheesy Auto-Pilot Genre Conventions.
Prime Cut may feature charmingly gravelly Lee Marvin, always brilliant Gene Hackman and Sissy Spacek when she was young and pretty, and its plot may be a turn through an interesting alley in the gangster genre, but it is still essentially a cheesy action movie that settles everything interesting about the story with the same shootouts we've been watching since Edwin Porter dazzled us for 11 minutes in 1903. I like guys in suits from New York collecting debts as much as the next guy, just as said guy and I like guys from New York collecting debts from Confederate neanderthals, and movies from the 1970s right down to the score by Lalo Schifrin. Nonetheless, it is not very fair to be absorbed in a story like this only for director Michael Winner to sit comfortably half-facing us within the confines of auto-pilot genre conventions.
Marvin plays a two-dimensional mob enforcer from Chicago sent to Kansas to collect a debt from Hackman's intriguingly characterized meatpacking boss. Spacek debuts as a young orphan sold into prostitution. There are already scores of ways scores of writers and directors could make an instant classic out of this material. There are some fantastically effective scenes in particular, a great deal of which derive from the reason why this otherwise assembly-line dirty-ol'-basterd picture was regarded as notably risqué for its time. The opening credits sequence is a composition of cleverly discreet images depicting the beef slaughtering process, with a very discreet twist. There is a striking portrayal of sex slavery in a scene where Hackman partakes in the auctioning of young women. There is a noted chase scene involving a combine in an open field.
There are also fast-sketch expository scenes like one with Hackman and the character Weenie, his brother and right-hand man, where their day-to-day dialogue is interrupted by their sudden urge to rassle, Hackman's accountants making an effort to remain furniture no matter where the fight leads. Marvin's boss in Chicago gives him some back-up muscle in the form of a driver whose life he once saved and three other younger members of the Irish mob. There is a style here that seems to have influenced the chic male-centric palette of Guy Ritchie's thug films. There is a brief scene where one of these baby-faced enforcers makes Marvin meet his mother as they leave Chicago. It is a swift, omniscient and interesting little inference of this character before he becomes another pop-up board for the various sundry bullets he will be obligated to exchange with other pop-up men.
A shootout never hurt a great movie, and not too many good ones. But this is one that could have been one of them had it not jumped to the guns so hastily without taking a stab at working out the thematic dilemmas first. The first inclinations when dealing with such a premise would be the themes of man and nature, culture clash, North and South, and other elements that could say a lot about the dual nature leading to opposing means of taking on the same criminal enterprises. Instead, it's simply Marvin the good guy and Hackman the bad guy, and they slice through their respective thickets of underlings until they come face to face, only then addressing the superiority of man over beast with a stunning irony I can only hope was intentional. But I don't think so.
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