Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek
Director: Michael Ritchie
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 86 Minutes
Release Date: June 14, 2005

Film ***

Once upon a time, there was a pure badass of cinema, and his name was Lee Marvin. If there was any indication of how big his tough-guy persona could ever get, one only needs to look to the 1972 action thriller, Prime Cut. Even though Marvin had already secured a legendary status with films such as The Dirty Dozen and The Professionals, itís in this film that Marvin forever secures his place in the history of all-time great tough-guy movie stars.

The movie itself is one of the most bizarrely plotted films Iíve ever seen. For a movie made in the early 1970s, I canít have imagined how much of a ride this must have been for audiences who saw it. It could easily be described pulp noir of the highest order.

Marvin stars as Nick Devlin, a Chicago mob enforcer who is given a new assignment by his bosses. He is ordered to travel to Kansas City and collect a debt from a ruthless cattle rancher. It sounds like a routine collecting gig, until Devlin realizes the world heís entered.

It turns out that this cattle rancher, named Mary Ann (Gene Hackman), is doing more than stealing money from the mob. Much to Devlinís surprise, the rancher is selling drugs and prostitutes and offing anyone who gets in his way in a most peculiar way. Since a meat factory serves as a front, he has his enemies grinded into meat.

And itís the way that Mary Ann sells the prostitutes that really illustrates how crazy he is. He sets them up on display in stacks of hay at an auction, where the women are completely naked. Devlin gets to know one of the women, named Poppy (Sissy Spacek, looking very young and quite lovely), and plots to help her escape, in addition to closing down Mary Annís operation for good.

For a movie with a brief running time of 86 minutes, this is one movie that does have a lot of story and action to go around. In addition to Marvin at his all time best, we have Gene Hackman playing a villain with pure gusto, and one who ďeats gutsĒ, as Marvinís character puts it. One of the highlights of the movie is a lengthy chase sequence on a wheat field, where Devlin and Poppy are chased by a big reaper.

Prime Cut is a grand example of the kind of movie that was common during the golden age of cinema in the 70s, but is hard to come by these days. The film provides an ultra retro-feel, as well as a superb performance from Lee Marvin that is the pure epitome of cool.

Video ***

Paramount delivers quite an astounding looking disc. For a movie from 1972, a lot of effort was obviously made in order to get the clear picture that is presented on the disc. Image is nice and clear for the most part, give a hint or two of softness, and the level of colors and image detail is quite strong. Very nicely done!

Audio ***

How rare to deliver a 5.1 mix to an early 70s film? The sound mix for Prime Cut is as equally astounding as the image quality. Dialogue delivery is effortlessly clear, several action scenes play out quite well, and even a few set pieces give the sound a nice boost.

Features (Zero Stars)



Prime Cut is a dynamite showcase from the 70s of two acting giants, Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman, in a tensioned filled confrontation. It could be considered as one of the great early pulp films to give the filmmakers of today certain inspiration. And once again, Lee Marvin is as cool as it gets!

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