Prime Cut (1972)

Voted #14 in a poll of the 20 Greatest Gangster Movies You’ve Never Seen* (*Probably) by Empire Magazine in 2009.

Prime Cut is a 1972 American film produced by Joe Wizan and directed by Michael Ritchie, with a screenplay written by Robert Dillon. The movie stars Lee Marvin as a mob enforcer from Chicago sent to Kansas to collect a debt from a meatpacker boss played by Gene Hackman. Sissy Spacek appears in her first credited on-screen role as a young orphan sold into prostitution.

The movie was considered highly risqué for its time based on its violence, as well as its graphic depiction of female slavery, including a scene depicting the auctioning of young women in the manner of beef cattle. It is also noted for its depiction of the beef slaughtering process, and a famous chase scene involving a combine in an open field.

When mob associates turn up dead at the hands of a ruthless businessman, an enforcer is sent down to Kansas to investigate the incidents. What he finds is a man who is turning a seemingly idyllic town into a seething underbelly of corruption: drugs, bootlegging, and female sexual slavery. The very man responsible for the murders is someone who won’t stand down and pay a long standing debt that turned those looking for it, dead. The last unfortunate person to do so was ground into sausage, a nasty business run by that man who specializes in cattle. What occurs is a gang war between the men who now dominate this farm locale with an iron fist, and the men trying to put closure on an escalating situation.

Lee Marvin – Nick Devlin
Gene Hackman – Mary Ann
Angel Tompkins – Clarabelle
Gregory Walcott – Weenie
Sissy Spacek – Poppy
Janit Baldwin – Violet
William Morey – Shay
Clint Ellison – Delaney
Howard Platt – Shaughnessy
Les Lannom – O’Brien
Eddie Egan – Jake
Therese Reinsch – Jake’s Girl
Bob Wilson – Reaper Driver
Gordon Signer – Brockman
Gladys Watson – Milk Lady
Wayne Savagne – Freckle Face