IMDb > Cutter's Way (1981)
Cutter's Way
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Down 49% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Newton Thornburg (novel)
Jeffrey Alan Fiskin (screenplay)
View company contact information for Cutter's Way on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
10 February 1982 (France) See more »
Cutter does everything his way. Fighting. Loving. Working. Tracking down a killer.
Richard spots a man dumping a body, and decides to expose the man he thinks is the culprit with his friend Alex Cutter. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
3 wins & 1 nomination See more »
(20 articles)
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User Reviews:
Top Notch "Political Thriller" Still Resonates... See more (48 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Jeff Bridges ... Richard Bone

John Heard ... Alex Cutter

Lisa Eichhorn ... 'Mo'
Ann Dusenberry ... Valerie Duran
Stephen Elliott ... J. J. Cord
Arthur Rosenberg ... George Swanson
Nina van Pallandt ... Woman in the Hotel (as Nina Van Pallandt)

Patricia Donahue ... Mrs. Cord
Geraldine Baron ... Susie Swanson
Katherine Pass ... Toyota Woman

Francis X. McCarthy ... Toyota Man (as Frank McCarthy)
George Planco ... Toyota Cop
Jay Fletcher ... Cord Security Guard
George Dickerson ... Mortician
Jack Murdock ... Concession Owner
Essex Smith ... Black #1
Rod Gist ... Black #2
Leonard Lightfoot ... Black #3

Julia Duffy ... Young Girl
Randy Shepard ... Young Man
Roy Hollis ... Working Stiff

Billy Drago ... Garbage Man
Caesar Cordova ... Garbage Truck Driver

Jonathan Terry ... Police Captain (as Jon Terry)
William Pelt ... Detective #1
Ron Marcroft ... Detective #2
Ted White ... Guard #1
Tony Epper ... Guard #2
Andy Epper ... Guard #3
Chris Howell ... Guard #4
H.P. Evetts ... Guard #5
Ron Burke ... Guard #6
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Fox Purtill ... Kid on Skateboard (uncredited)
Mark Valenti ... Party guest (uncredited)

Directed by
Ivan Passer 
Writing credits
Newton Thornburg (novel "Cutter and Bone")

Jeffrey Alan Fiskin (screenplay)

Produced by
Larry J. Franco .... associate producer (as Larry Franco)
Paul R. Gurian .... producer
Barrie M. Osborne .... associate producer
Original Music by
Jack Nitzsche 
Cinematography by
Jordan Cronenweth (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Caroline Biggerstaff  (as Caroline Ferriol)
Casting by
Susan Shaw 
Production Design by
Josan F. Russo 
Art Direction by
Josan F. Russo  (as Josan Russo)
Set Decoration by
Thomas L. Roysden 
Makeup Department
Lola 'Skip' McNalley .... hair stylist
Ben Nye Jr. .... makeup artist
Bron Roylance .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Barrie M. Osborne .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jeffrey Chernov .... second assistant director
Larry J. Franco .... first assistant director (as Larry Franco)
Jim Van Wyck .... dga trainee
Art Department
Gary Fettis .... lead man
Robert Scaife .... construction coordinator (as Robert E. Scaife)
'Dangerous' Bob Widin .... assistant property master
John Zemansky .... property master
Sound Department
Gregg Barbanell .... supervising sound editor: Mag City
Robert L. Harman .... sound re-recording mixer
Petur Hliddal .... production sound mixer
Ron Horwitz .... supervising sound editor
Hudson B. Marquez .... boom operator (as Hudson Marquez)
William L. McCaughey .... sound re-recording mixer
Bob Newlan .... assistant sound editor
Jim Stuebe .... cable person (as James Stuebe)
Howard S. Wollman .... sound re-recording mixer: Ryder Sound Services (as Howard Wollman)
Gregg Barbanell .... foley artist (uncredited)
Ron Burke .... stunt person
William H. Burton Jr. .... stunt coordinator (as Bill Burton)
Rita Egleston .... stunt person
Andy Epper .... stunt person
Tony Epper .... stunt person
H.P. Evetts .... stunt person
June Evetts .... stunt person
Hugh Hooker .... stunt person
Chris Howell .... stunt person
Glynn Rubin .... stunt person
Jay Salerno .... stunt person
Ted White .... stunt person
Loyd Catlett .... utility stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Cary Griffith .... key grip
Richard Hart .... gaffer
Johnny E. Jensen .... first assistant camera (as Johnny Jensen)
Donald E. Thorin .... camera operator (as Donald Thorin)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jane Ruhm .... key costumer
Editorial Department
Donah Bassett .... negative cutter
Paul Dixon .... assistant film editor
Aubrey Head .... color timer
Mark Winitsky .... assistant film editor
Music Department
Eric Harry .... musician: glass harmonica
David Hassinger .... music recording engineer
Jack Nitzsche .... composer: song "We're Old Enough to Know"
Walter Repple .... musician: zither
Curt Sobel .... music editor: La Da Productions
Transportation Department
Dennis Hollis .... transportation coordinator (as Dennis H. Hollis)
Other crew
Joanie Blum .... script supervisor
Amanda Gill .... assistant: Mr. Gurian
Josef Lustig .... assistant: Mr. Passer
Jimmy Medearis .... head wrangler
Dan Perri .... title designer
Mark Radcliffe .... location manager
Elise Rohden .... production coordinator
Kurt Woolner .... production accountant
Barry A. Ebert .... thanks: the producer expresses his deepest appreciation to those without whom this picture would not be possible
Deborah Elaine Finn .... thanks: the producer expresses his deepest appreciation to those without whom this picture would not be possible
William J. Levitt Jr. .... thanks: the producer expresses his deepest appreciation to those without whom this picture would not be possible
David H. Pittinski .... thanks: the producer expresses his deepest appreciation to those without whom this picture would not be possible

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
109 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

First of only two ever filmed adaptations from works by novelist Newton Thornburg. The second would be Beautiful Kate (2009) made and released around twenty-eight years later in 2009. Interestingly, that film's director, Rachel Ward, starred with the lead star of Cutter's Way (1981), Jeff Bridges, in 1984's Against All Odds (1984).See more »
Plot holes: Valerie's disappearance is never explained neither noted by the main characters.See more »
Alex Cutter:I don't drink. You know, the routine grind drives me to drink. Tragedy, I take straight.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)See more »
We're Old Enough to KnowSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
45 out of 61 people found the following review useful.
Top Notch "Political Thriller" Still Resonates..., 11 April 2002
Author: Fanny Babs

`Cutter's Way' Ups the Bar on Mysteries- Harrowing, Moving

It is one of the more bitter ironies in the "business" of movies that a motion picture this good can remain such a secret; all but buried under the gloss and glitz of the 80's and 90's hyper-insensitive cinema. Since it was released in the beginning of the Reagan era, circa 1981, the only film to equal it in its mystery genre is "The Usual Suspects", but even that film, with all of its intricacies of plot; fiendishly delightful manipulations; twists; turns; and eccentricities of character, remains a "conventional" who-done-it, when compared to the import, and mystery, of "Cutter's Way".

Told within the context of dazed and confused post Vietnam era America, it features a breathtaking performance from the brilliant, and never since better, John Heard as Alex Cutter. A hard drinking Veteran who was crippled by a land mine during the war while walking point, (`Only place to be!'), Alex is the biting conscience of an era trying to numb itself with booze and sex to it's recent past. While his cynical ravings about America and Americans appear to be the drunken ravings of a lunatic when he pronounces them, his alcoholic fugue really just dulls the jagged edge of the brutal truths he speaks enough so they fall just short of a lethal weapon. `Playing' at being a cripple, Alex remains insulated from the threat of getting his head pounded in, and he takes full advantage of his disability, managing to at least appear to hold the higher moral ground during even his more assaultive tirades. He remains clear, truthful, and precise while denouncing the sinister intrigues he observes swirling about him in the mundane world he inhabits, (`The routine grind drives me to drink. Tragedy I take straight'), so when his best friend Richard Bone, played by Jeff Bridges, inadvertently stumbles onto a real life crime of the most lurid kind, one that `may' link the most powerful elder in the community of Santa Barbara to the sex attack and murder of a teenaged girl, Alex takes to his trail like a dog to a bone. This is not the kind of Vietnam Vet it is fashionable to play anymore, nor is it considered politically correct to even acknowledge once existed as our primary mythological figure that had returned from the jungles of that strange war. But, this film was released at the beginning of the Regan era folks, before the more cynical memories of the Vietnam era were more or less painted over by that `new feeling in the land' that was gaining momentum back then. But, there is still Alex Cutter, a biting testament to the time, in one of the best performances from an actor you will ever committed to film. Mr. Heard displays the astonishing breadth of character very much evident in the range of work offered by the Jack Nicholson, or the great Gary Oldman, (who has played everything from Dracula to Lee Harvey Oswald), and he fuels Alex's emotional life with the range of King Lear. This guy rocks! He simply chews through the scenery, yet, while going way over the top in his focused and insightful ravings, he always manages to remain within the realm of believability. And, while Jeff Bridges gives us still another chance to see first hand why he is considered one of the great American actors of his generation, it is the beautiful actress Lisa Eichhorn as the doomed, suffering wife of Alex, who is a true revelation here. Her unforgettable portrait of Mo, (Maureen), alcoholic, lonesome, and lost, gives us the quintessential bruised angel for the era. A tragic figure, Mo is the `hippie chick' that met a one-night stand at a sixties party, and got her skirt caught in the door when she tried to get out. She is loyal to Alex, because she truly loves him, but we always know that somewhere down the line she took a wrong turn, and this is not the street she should be living on. Ms. Eichhorns heartbreaking performance has haunted me since 1981 when I first saw this film at the Cannery Cinema in San Francisco, and I have been in love with Mo since that day. If there is anything about the web that I can say `I love', it's that I can encourage other folks out there to finally give this film and this wonderful actress the attention she and it so richly deserve. I still mist over slightly when I think of Mo quietly weeping as Jeff Bridges holds her in his arms and whispers tender secrets, and soft encouragements to her during their love scene. It's one of the most heartrending, moving, and beautiful moments I've ever seen on film. Ms. Eichhorn shows us vividly how much it "means" for Mo to be held and to be loved, and how desperate her need for kindness is. I ache for that character and her predicament even today when I think about her. This is when acting is a true art form. I haven't seen this film in a long, long time, but this moment is as clear to me now as if I had seen it yesterday. Ms. Eichhorn paints such a moving and humane portrait of Mo's lost yet loving soul in the precious moments when she is on the screen, that it is very clear she would have become a major international film star, as she was once expected to be, had only things happened a little differently for her. And, while it's true that I gave up taking the Oscar race real seriously a long time ago, having decided when John Wayne beat Dustin Hoffman for Best Actor that there was no justice in it, I watch them just to savor the moments when they do get it right, and it is still amazing to me that none of the principles involved in the creation of this great film, neither it's writer; director; composer; nor any of it's magnificent stars, were recognized in any way by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for their work. Not one nomination went to `Cutter's Way' for anything. This film disappeared from theaters almost as soon as it arrived. Oh, to further peak your interest, I should tell you that there is a dark secret of epic proportions brewing beneath the surface of this story, one that is never openly discussed nor revealed, not even at the end of the film. Yet, we're always strangely aware of something within the narrative teasing us along, well hidden within the action; illuminated only in the subtext of dialogue; and story; keeping us deceptively riveted on the murder mystery, while imperceptively tugging on the coattails of our subconscious, drawing us further down a rabbit hole to peek behind the mask of a killer in that marvelous way only a master director, (Ivan Passer), can. Oh, you have a good old-fashioned who-done-it here too folks, and I can pretty well promise you fans of that genre that they won't be disappointed even if that's all your looking for. It's just that, well, like `Blow Up' and more recently `Eyes Wide Shut', "Cutter's Way" is, at its core so much more than just a `murder mystery'. Critics naive enough to have dismissed this "storytelling" as too "simple" have missed the secret of this film by a wide five miles, as well as cheated themselves out of the sheer fun of watching it and trying to figure it out. Hey Guys, you seriously need to give this one another chance. `Cutters Way' is a classic, one of a kind murder mystery. (Indeed, it was recently released on DVD as part of the MGM `Classics Series'.) I doubt anyone who sees it will ever forget it. It's darker secret will more than likely elude you as it has so many others on the first viewing, but not to worry. Like all the great films that remind us why we go to movies in the first place, you'll be drawn to watching `Cutters Way' again. Be forewarned though, this film keeps a secret even after the shattering, final blast echoes into the darkness of its last frame; one that will resonate with you for many years to come.

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