Retro Review: PRIME CUT

With the latest Film Club, I was initially interested in Solomon Kane. It’s a movie I like and wanted to watch again. However, I saw Prime Cut on the list and I’ve never seen it before. After checking it out, I instantly wanted to watch it. Spoiler alert, it didn’t make the… cut for Film Club, but I watched it anyway.

In the vast realm of cinematic treasures, Prime Cut is a shining gem. It has a unique blend of action-packed sequences, suspenseful storytelling, and unforgettable performances which only the 70s delivered. Director Michael Ritchie’s masterful touch, combined with an impeccable cast, delivers a gripping experience. I’d argue it has stood the test of time, but seeing as I had never heard of it, I wonder if it’s highly underappreciated.


Prime Cut is a crime thriller that effortlessly weaves together elements of organized crime, rural landscapes, and just enough dark humor. The movie is set against the backdrop of the American Midwest, it opens with a visually striking sequence. A juxtaposition of the picturesque wheat fields with a slaughterhouse’s brutal reality sets the tone for a movie that expertly contrasts beauty and brutality throughout its runtime.

Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin), is a tough and resourceful enforcer sent by the Chicago mob to Kansas City. He’s after Mary Ann (Gene Hackman), a sadistic and cunning crime lord that runs a slaughterhouse as a front. He also owes a lot of money to the mob.

The mob had sent others before and Mary Ann sent them back in doggy bags as a show of force. They have no choice but to send in a veteran like Devlin. Marvin’s portrayal of Devlin exudes charisma and toughness. His interactions with Hackman’s Mary Ann are the true highlight of Prime Cut. The electrifying chemistry between Marvin and Hackman creates tension, elevating every scene they share.

Hackman’s performance as Mary Ann is a masterclass in villainy. With his menacing smile and unpredictable demeanor, Hackman brings an unnerving quality to the character. His ability to switch between charming and sinister with ease is a testament to his incredible acting prowess.

In addition to its primary cast, Prime Cut features great supporting performances that contribute to the movie. Sissy Spacek makes her impressive film debut as Poppy, a young and vulnerable girl caught in the crossfire of criminal activities. Spacek’s portrayal of innocence amidst the chaos is heartrending and compelling.

Another of Prime Cut‘s remarkable strengths lies in its ability to tackle serious themes while maintaining a touch of dark humor. I do love some dark humor. The movie navigates between moments of suspenseful drama and lighthearted quips. The clever use of symbolism, such as the recurring motif of animal slaughter, adds depth to the narrative. This creates a thought-provoking movie that reflects on the juxtaposition of life and death.


The movie’s action sequences are a true testament to its enduring appeal. It features a series of intense and well-choreographed action scenes. These moments are seamlessly woven into the narrative, adding to the overall excitement and suspense. That said some of the editing, especially in its finale, is questionable. Nothing too jarring, but noticeable.

Prime Cut is a cinematic achievement that deserves recognition for its exceptional performances, captivating storytelling, and striking visuals. Marvin and Hackman’s powerhouse performances, coupled with the movie’s ability to seamlessly blend suspense and humor, create an enduring experience. Whether you’re a fan of crime thrillers, character-driven narratives, or simply exceptional filmmaking, this is a must-watch that guarantees an enthralling and memorable experience.


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