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USA 1981
Directed by
Ivan Passer
109 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Cutter's Way

Originally given a mainstream release as Cutter and Bone Ivan Passer's film was quickly pulled by United Artist then re-packaged as an art-house film with its present title and has since acquired cult status as one of the standout works of its era, the 70s renaissance of Hollywood.

Written by Jeffrey Alan Fiskin from a novel by Newton Thornburg (which gave the film its original title) it tells the story of its three central characters, Alex Cutter (John Heard), a disabled Vietnam vet with a bad attitude and a mouth to match, his long-suffering wife (Lisa Eichhorn) who shares with him a bed and a drinking problem, and Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges as a character that he has played innumerable times since), an over-age slacker and pantsman. All three are going nowhere fast and know it and when Bone becomes an apparent witness to a murder by a well-known fat-cat identity it variously becomes a catalyst for change in their lives (a fourth character, Valerie (Ann Dusenberry), the sister of the murder victim simply disappears from the narrative). 

Clearly Thornburg's original novel must be credited as a source of strength but Fiskin's script, an excellent cast led by John Heard's powerhouse performance as the physically and psychically-damaged Cutter, Passer's fine direction, and Jordon Cronenweth's photography all combine to give us a moving picture of the post-60s generation after love and peace had been bought and sold.

Few directors could get away with having the one-armed Cutter charge the evil knight's palace on a white stallion (an emblem which appears in the film in various guises) but Passer pulls it off with style. A Czech who was Milos Forman's screenwriter on The Fireman's Ball he has never again come close to the success of this film.

DVD Extras: None

 

 

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