Prime Cut

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"Any way they slice it, it’s going to be murder"
  • R
  • 1972
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 6.7  (5,788)

In 1972, the action crime film "Prime Cut" was released, directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, and Sissy Spacek. Set in the American Midwest, the film follows the story of Chicago mob enforcer Nick Devlin (Marvin) who is sent to Kansas City to collect a debt owed by a meatpacking company owned by the eccentric and sadistic Mary Ann (Hackman). However, as Devlin completes his mission, he discovers a far more sinister plot involving human trafficking and forced prostitution, and he must team up with Poppy (Spacek), a young victim of Mary Ann's operation, to rescue her and take down the depredator once and for all.

The opening sequence of "Prime Cut" is brutal and sets the tone for the rest of the film, as a group of cowboys are hired to capture a young woman, before she is sold to the highest bidder at a secret auction. The focus on the dehumanization and abuse of women is central to the plot, as Poppy and other young girls are forced to work in the meatpacking plant's brothel, with no hope of escape.

Lee Marvin is perfectly cast as Nick Devlin, a tough and uncompromising enforcer who is ruthless when it comes to protecting his interests. He exudes a stoic presence and his cool and calm demeanor infuse his character with an aura of respect and fear. Gene Hackman is equally good as his antagonist, Mary Ann. He portrays the character with a maniacal intensity that borders on the grotesque, and his sadism and callousness are hard to watch at times. Sissy Spacek, who was just beginning her career at the time, is also excellent in her role as Poppy, and portrays the character with a heartbreaking vulnerability that is both authentic and raw.

The cinematography in "Prime Cut" is outstanding, with the film making excellent use of the vast open spaces of the Midwest, juxtaposing the serene environment with the harsh realities of the human trafficking industry. The score by Lalo Schifrin is also worth mentioning, as it provides the intensity that the film so desperately needs.

The plot of "Prime Cut" is not just a simple revenge story. It tackles a lot of complex issues like human trafficking, forced prostitution, and the inherent corruption and inequality that underlies American society. It also has a subtle critique of the brutal nature of industrialization and corporate greed, and how it dehumanizes people in order to maximize profits.

However, the film has its flaws. The pace is uneven, and some scenes drag on for too long, while others feel rushed. The acting of some of the supporting characters can also be somewhat inconsistent, and the dialogue sometimes feels clunky and contrived.

In summary, "Prime Cut" is a largely forgotten gem of 70s cinema that deserves more recognition. It is a dark and uncompromising film that exposes the underbelly of America and its inherent contradictions. Featuring fantastic performances by its lead actors, a strong score, and some magnificent cinematography, it is a must-watch for fans of the crime thriller genre.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (5,788)