Prime Cut (1972) – A Review


A review of the 1972 crime film Prime Cut starring Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman and Sissy Spacek, directed by Michael Ritchie

Prime Cut 1972 Gene Hackman Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin is a mob enforcer from Chicago asked to goto Kansas to collect on some overdue scratch cattleman and criminal Gene Hackman owes to his bosses and who Marvin has a bit of a history with.

Marvin is his terrific taciturn no nonsense tough guy self. Hackman is one sadistic baddie who will causally grind his enemies up into sausage, saran wrap them up and send them back to where they came from. The opening scene from this movie will stick with you!

He’s not only in the cattle business, but the slave trade too! He really doesn’t make the distinction between cattle and girls, having auctions of young drugged up girls to be used anyway the winner wants to use them.

It’s at one of these twisted auctions where Marvin meets Sissy Spacek, a girl who’s up on the selling block. He takes her as collateral until Hackman agrees to pay up, but despite his sincere smile he doesn’t plan on being intimidated. He’s going to make sure Marvin never makes it back to Chicago again. But as we all know – you don’t just try to push around Lee Marvin!

Prime Cut was directed by Michael Ritchie and is something of an unusual film. There’s a certain black humor it has, but never seems to fully embrace. Hackman is the standout and seems to relish some of the absurdity going on while Marvin plays it all more straight.

Prime Cut 1972 Lee Marvin Sissy Spacek havester sceneThere are stretches where little happens and the tension dissipates, but then along comes a fun scene of Marvin and Spacek running from a harvester really driving the contrast between the tools of a country criminal against his city counterpart.

The movie isn’t subtle at all. It will probably turn vegetarians stomachs with all the beef, cattle and slaughtering on display.

I don’t think Prime Cut is a masterpiece, but it does feel unique. Marvin and Hackman going toe-to-toe is a treat to watch and there are enough memorably bizarre scenes that make this 88 minute crime drama worth a watch.


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