Cutter’s Way (1981) Ivan Passer
Okay, so I’m stepping outside the normal boundaries of the recognized classic film noir period (1940s and 50s) for two reasons: I’ve been wanting to see Cutter’s Way for quite some time and I was delighted to see it come up on Filmstruck, which I just started with my trial membership.
It’s really unfair for me to write such a brief review of the film; I’ll definitely rewatch this soon and will have much, much more to say about it. What happened to the film upon its initial release is also unfair and I hope to get into that more at another time. But briefly, here we go:
Jeff Bridges plays Richard Bone (really!), a small-time but good-looking guy who one night abandons his wreck of a car and sees a man dump something into a garbage can. The next day Bone learns that a young woman was murdered in the same place he abandoned his car, so the cops waste no time in questioning a loser like Bone. Later that day, Bone and his friend Alex Cutter (John Heard) are watching a local parade when Bone spots a man he thinks is the one he saw dumping the body in the garbage. The man Bone spots is a local millionaire (Stephen Elliott) and Cutter urges Bone to do some investigation.
That’s really all you need to know, except that Cutter is a double-amputee Vietnam vet. I say that not because Cutter’s character is a stereotype, but rather because it’s crucial in understanding the character. (And John Heard is absolutely brilliant in the role.) This film is so incredibly rich in character, tone, pacing, dialogue, acting and direction that you’ll wonder where it’s been hiding all these years. I’m not going to tell you any more about it, except that this is a superb film and I’ll be reporting on it in full soon, perhaps very soon. I just can’t stop thinking about it…
Photos: IndieWire, RareFilm, Zebradelic, L ‘Oeil sur l’Ecran, Live for Films, The Best Little Film House