Prime Cut (1972)
Beefy Burgers and Meat Market Malarkey.
11 July 2020
Prime Cut is directed by Michael Ritchie and written by Robert Dillon. It stars Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek, Angel Tompkins, Gregory Walcott and Janit Baldwin. Music is by Lalo Schifrin and cinematography by Gene Polito.

A vicious Kansas City slaughterhouse owner (Hackman) and his hick family are having a bloody war with a Chicago crime syndicate over profits from their joint illegal operations. Chicago heads decide to send top enforcer Nick Devlin (Marvin) to straighten things out.

1972 was something of a tricky year for Lee Marvin, he had made "Pocket Money" with Paul Newman, which was a mess of a film and subsequently failed across the board. He then made "Prime Cut", a film so offbeat and tonally all over the place it still today divides fans of Marvin's work. Yet time has been much kinder to it, not like it's a hidden gem type of thing, but a real culter that if one can embrace the nature of the beast, and forgive it the stench of misogyny, then there's some rewards awaiting.

It wasn't an easy shoot, Marvin absolutely hated director Ritchie, and he even refused to take the character arc between himself and Spacek's (in her debut film and superb) young waif that step too far. The resulting film, of what was passed via the censors, is an uneasy blend of sleaze and irreverence. The juxtaposition between the bustle of Chicago and the hick country file of Kansas brings about a sort of battle for America's soul. So who better than Marvin and Hackman to serve up the polar opposites of Americana?.

The violence hits hard, as does the sex slave trading kink in the narrative, all set to the wonderfully airy backdrop of homespun countryside life. Marvin is superb, all machismo and gives us a protag one can easily get on board with. Pic is difficult to recommend with complete confidence, but I for one am happy to join the cult that thinks it's great. 8/10
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