Cutter's Way (1981) from Tuna

Cutter's Way (1981) is a thriller set in picturesque Santa Barbara on the central California coast during the Spanish Days festival. I have been there for the festival, and it is every bit as festive as it is portrayed.  
Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges) sees a man dump a body in a trash can, and confides in his Vietnam vet buddy, Alex Cutter (John Heard) what he has seen. 

Cutter is a loudmouthed drunk, missing a leg, a hand and an eye due to war injuries, and a bona fide rascal. 

Bone has a well-deserved reputation as a ladies man, and also as someone who never faces anything. Cutter goads Bone into taking on the guilty man, who, of course, is the wealthiest man in town. 


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Cutters wife, Mo (Lisa Eichhorn) is long-suffering, and has always had an almost thing with Bone.  Mo and Bone do get together near the end of the film after he sees her exposing a breast asleep on a chaise lounge in nothing but a robe. I enjoyed the film, not so much for the plot, which was rather predictable, but for the characters, and the dialogue -- especially Cutter's.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no significant features

Scoop's comments:

It seems to me that of all the big name Hollywood stars, Jeff Bridges has done the best of choosing material that carves him a unique place in cinema history. The completely unpredictable Bridges seems to have a keen eye for the worthwhile offbeat script. with few exceptions, he seems to follow his heart into the projects he likes, to play heroes, antiheroes, villains, or even character parts. I am rarely disappointed by a Jeff Bridges movie. Cutter's Way, although largely forgotten in the two decades since it appeared, is one of his ten best.

The film has a lot of flaws. It is not very well plotted at all. It moves too slowly after the halfway point, and the editing is choppy. There are four main characters, and I still don't know what happened to one of them. The ending is too abrupt. 

Because of the flaws, I can't recommend it to you, yet despite all that, the film is a pleasure to watch. Tuna nailed the reason right on the head - it has some of the best damned dialogue of the era. It's literate, honest, and sometimes profound. I really enjoyed listening to what the characters had to say.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers score it a respectable 7.4/10. Women have it at 8.5, and women over 45 at an exalted 9.0. While it is a little weak as a suspense film, the characters make up for it. 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics - or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+ (both reviewers).

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