This past Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the New York premiere of one of the great films of the 1980s, the far too seldom seen Cutter’s Way a/k/a Cutter and Bone. Over at Edward Copeland’s film blog, J.D. offers a terrific account of how the film was made, essentially dumped by the studio and then luckily “saved from obscurity.” For fans of the film or just those interested in the machinations of the Hollywood machine, it’s a must-read.
Cutter’s Way is a movie I find myself liking more and more each time I see it. Bridges does great work here and he and John Heard (as Cutter) play exceptionally well off of each other. As J.D. puts it, “Heard plays Cutter like a character straight out of a Tom Waits song.” His need for action, for something other than liquor and self-pity, creates a terrific dynamic with Bridges’ do-nothing yacht rat gigolo. Between the two male leads is a remarkable performance by Lisa Eichhorn as Cutter’s depressed alcoholic wife, who plays one of the saddest love scenes ever put on film.
Cutter’s Way takes its time introducing the cast of characters and the world they inhabit. The film gradually lets you get to know them and their daily routine. Jeff Bridges proves once again that he is one of the best American actors working in film today. He portrays Bone as a man afraid of commitment, content to do little but fall back on his pretty boy looks to bed any woman who crosses his path. As one character tells him, “Sooner or later you’re going to have to make a decision about something.” This could be the underlying thesis of the whole film: making decisions and taking a stand about something.
The film (directed by Czech emigre Ivan Passer) has a lot in common with the great paranoia thrillers of the 1970s (e.g. Chinatown, The Parallax View, The Conversation) and it feels now as if it served as the parting shot for that cycle, as the 70s drifted into the 80s.