Cover Art: 8/10
The cover is cool enough, Spacek is a tease for sure in her Hilfiger looking 70’s garb. The menu is just another version of the same thing. It’s functional and they make some effort to design a new look for an older movie. The original posters are hysterically funny once you see the movie. You would think from looking at them you were about to see a blood bath of a horror flick…so the new packaging is more appropriate, but take a look at the posters if you have a chance.
The Movie: 8/10:
The gritty realism of the seventies was a wonderful thing. The opening sequence of Prime Cut is chilling, funny, creepy, and sinister, all with a lovely ball room tune playing over the top. The music is like a drug that is designed to distract and detach you from what you are seeing. Let’s just say that when you are watching the real workings of a slaughter house and meat packing plant and a man’s shoe makes its way onto a conveyer belt meant for raw cuts of beef, the part of your brain that’s not lulled into submission by the lovely music starts to scream silently in the back of your head. Any way you slice it, things ain’t right in Kansas City my friend, and Gene Hackman’s character, Mary Ann, makes no apologies as he dishes it out along with a plate full of steaming cow guts.
We are not talking about a shy, flowery kind of flick here people. This movie has everything from human wieners (not the kind Ron Jeremy is famous for) to naked girls for sale in pig pens. Yes folks, girls for sale. I know it’s very seventies to take the damsel in distress to the extreme and make women the target for whatever perversion the big bad men of the world want to bring down upon them. I’m not saying it’s politically correct to tell a story about little orphan girls being raised to then be sold to the highest bidder, but it’s a tale of bad vs. worse as our anti-hero (Lee Marvin) is out to defeat a bad guy who’s only redeeming quality is that he is Gene Hackman in the real world.
First of all we could trace his (Hackman’s character) bad behavior and need to exaggerate his manliness back to his school days when being a boy named Mary Ann got him a lot of unwanted attention:) Setting aside his psychological profile for a moment, because we don’t care why this guy is such a jerk, Mary Ann is a meat eating, woman selling, sweaty beast of a man and along with his even more sweaty dim-witted brother they raise the sleaze factor of being a man to an all time high (or low, however you look at it).
I cannot stress enough how grotesque most of the men are in this movie, but that’s the nature of this tale. Well dressed bad man with a past, Nick, vs. Midwestern belt buckle wearing bad bad man, Mary Ann. Lee Marvin plays a man coming to Kansas City to reign in the cocky Hackman and his habit of skimming cash off the top of the books before the big boys of the meat business in Chicago get their cut..haha get it, their CUT. Clever. It could be made into an episode of the Sopranos, if it weren’t for that little thing about selling young girls in an auction. Even that might be out of bounds for Tony and the gang.
When Nick (Lee Marvin) comes to town with his young crew of hard guys he’s ready to strong arm half a million of out Mary Ann and his brother with any methods necessary. Did I mention the brother’s name is Weenie? Enough said on that subject. Hackman rocks as always. He’s intimidating and makes you feel like any means of putting an end to his miserable life is perfectly acceptable. That’s actin’.
Marvin is brilliant. He’s haunting with his cold stare and hint of a smile when the time is just right. At one point, after he takes young Spacek from the herd of young girls for sale (yuck) she asks him to say her name. He quickly and with no regard to how important it is to her says “Poppy”. She asks him to say it again and this time he pauses and acknowledging her innocent need to have someone say her name with sincerity he does just that, “Poppy”. Dang, I wanted to hear him say MY name!
Spacek debuts as the distressed young thing in need of rescuing. I will sound pretentious here, but I do think you can see star quality in her even at that age and with this limited performance. She did a lot of pouting and looking weak, but with future Oscar winner in every wide eyed glance. That smile is hypnotic for sure. The dialogue written for Poppy can be strange at times. In the first scene we see her awake and feeling chatty, she gives any guy with a good imagination something to smile about. She recounts her past with another young girl with whom she would cuddle, “touch”, and talk in a deep voice to, so they would know what it would be like someday to be with a man…hmmmm Do you think her mother was on the set the day this pretty little teenage actress had to say all that to a well aged man like Lee Marvin?
Needless to say this is an interesting story and with a car being chewed up by a combine, a county fair that makes country living seem perverse in so many ways, and females for sale, Lee Marvin being ultra sexy, Gene Hackman being sweaty, well, you tell me if you can find a better way to spend 86 minutes.
This DVD is bare bones my friend. It’s at the $10 mark online in some places, and no matter how you serve it up, this is a movie worth a watch. Buy it if you’ve got the cash. Rent it if you can find it anywhere. It’s got action, sex, and meat, well worth the price tag even without any extras.
Overall Score 8/10