THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN

THE GOAL FOR 2018: 200 MOVIES WATCHED BY MIDNIGHT NEW YEAR'S EVE!  (AFTER TOPPING OUT AT 194 in 2017)

CAN HE DO IT?

​​THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN

PRIME CUT (1972)

Reading a great book called “Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American 70s” by Charles Taylor where he writes of the most interesting and nearly forgotten films of that wild decade.  And I nearly forgot about one of his subjects – the delirious Prime Cut starring Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman and, in her first credited role, a ridiculously young Sissy Spacek.  This film almost needs to be seen to be believed.  Seeing it again recently, it’s as subversive as ever and perhaps more jaw-dropping today then it’s ever been.  The plot: mob enforcer Nick (Lee Marvin) is asked by the Chicago mob to go to Kansas City to help collect a debt.  It seems that the previous enforcer who went to collect came back as a package of sausages (a title sequence not for the squeamish shows a slaughterhouse process from start to finish with things like shoes and wristwatches turning up on the conveyor belt – Chicago beef?).  Hackman is Mary Ann (yes, that’s his name – Mary Ann).  It’s his beef operation in KC and he has some other things going on as well – an auction we’re led to believe is a cattle auction is actually a white prostitute slave auction – naked, drugged, nubile young women available to the highest bidder.  One of the girls, Poppy (Spacek) calls out quietly to Nick for help, who takes her out of there with hopes to save the poor kid. Things come to a head at the next day’s county fair, where Mary Ann does not come up with the money that’s owed.  Nick and Poppy are forced to flee, are chased at gunpoint and run from a huge combine that could cut them to pieces (in a nod to Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, where Cary Grant is chased by a crop duster).  Wait til you see the combine harvest up a big ol’ limo!  There’s a lot more action, including a big gun battle in a sunflower field.  Prime Cut is totally gonzo with a deadpan performance by Marvin and a pretty wild one by Hackman as well as Gregory Walcott, totally off the deep end as Weenie, who always keeps some weenies in his pocket to snack on (!)  There’s all kinds of other stuff going on here – like I said earlier, you really need to see this – no more spoilers from me!  Michael Ritchie is the director, who’s done tons of great stuff but nothing along the lines of Prime Cut!  Sure glad Charles Taylor reminded me that this film existed.  Recommended but NOT for everybody.  You know who you are!

TLA one-word review: harsh