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Cutter's Way
Cutter's Way
Actors: Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn, Ann Dusenberry, Stephen Elliott
Director: Ivan Passer
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2001     1hr 45min

One of the most original, unpredictable buddy movies in cinematic history, this "hauntingly powerful, exhilarating thriller" (New York Magazine) stars four-time Oscar(r) nominee* JeffBridges and John Heard (The Pelican Bri...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn, Ann Dusenberry, Stephen Elliott
Director: Ivan Passer
Creators: Jordan Cronenweth, Caroline Biggerstaff, Barrie M. Osborne, Larry J. Franco, Paul R. Gurian, Jeffrey Alan Fiskin, Newton Thornburg
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/10/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/1981
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1981
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: Spanish, French
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

An engrossing murder mystery
Cubist | United States | 06/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When Cutter's Way was first released in theatres in 1981, it tanked at the box office thanks to bad press from The New York Times and a nervous studio still smarting from the bath it took on Heaven's Gate. A good film almost disappeared from sight. Fortunately, the advent of video, and now its debut on DVD, has given this unusual film a second chance that it so richly deserves. 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, taking a stand about something.John Heard's Alex Cutter is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He desperately wants to get involved in something, anything to stop living life in a bottle of alcohol. And so, he latches on to the murder mystery with the ferocious tenacity of a pitbull. Heard plays Cutter like a character straight out of a Tom Waits song. His performance, complete with raspy voice and cynical outlook on life, recalls many of Waits' down-on-their-luck losers that populate his songs.The actors vividly breathe life into their respective characters creating the impression that they exist beyond what we see on the screen, that in some way we already know them and that they'll continue to exist after the film ends.Director Ivan Passer also deserves credit for creating this world. From the haunting opening shot of a parade, caught in dreamy slow motion (thanks to Jordan Cronenweth's superb cinematography), filmed at first in black and white and then as the credits fade in and out it gradually becomes colour, Passer draws the audience into his absorbing drama. Cutter's Way contains strong visuals to contrast the ambiguous story. Nothing is spelled out for the audience, even right up to its conclusion. Do we support Cutter's obsessive conspiracy theories or Bone's refusal to get involved?Following in the grand tradition of short changing this movie, MGM has decided to include only the theatrical trailer on the DVD. What about a retrospective featurette? All the principals are still alive and I'm sure would love to talk about this movie. Or an audio commentary? Jeff Bridges contributed an excellent one on the Against All Odds DVD so he's hip to the format. A lot of missed opportunities here."
Cutter's Way
Joseph B Murray | London United Kingdom | 04/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Stumbled across this movie by chance.All three leads are superb, giving the kind of charismatic, heroic, complex performances you so rarely see in Hollywood these days; the direction is deceptively simple, but subtly poetic and moving - it has the same kind of feel as the best of Milos Forman's American pictures (Cuckoo's Nest etc.), only with it's own gentle power.It's sort of a Film Noir/Character Study/Dropout Movie. Actually, waffling aside, it's just one of those movies you either clutch tightly to your breast after one viewing or aren't really going to care much for. Well, it got me and even though I'd like to think I found it first and it's my little secret, I know that's not true... Anyway, watch and enjoy; it's not perfect, it may not actually be great, but it should stab you in the heart a little, and take you on the kind of quirky, bumpy ride you might just need! Give it a try........"
Cutter King
eserhan | ISTANBUL, ESENTEPE Turkey | 11/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The alcoholic, blasphemous and "crippled" Cutter would not please Arnold fans. But for his crowd, he pulls out a heartbreaking display of bravery and follows his paranoia until the very end.We have seen men like him on screen before, but they lacked the willingless to sacrifice themselves in pursuit of re-gaining self respect and the ability to turn "no-good" bystanders (Bone) in the process.The off beat pace of the movie, the underacting and its noir tones very successfully dims the gut wrenching drama at play, without affecting the suspense. The suspense? There is more of it in wondering where the Cutter's relentless path to self-destruction might lead to than in solving the murder mystery at play. Simply worth watching for John Heard's perfect depiction of Cutter. Bridges (Bone) and Eichhorn are excellent as well."
More Relevant Than Ever
Only-A-Child | 11/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The title "Cutter's Way" is a reference to the main character, Alexander Cutter, perhaps cinema's all-time best antihero. John Heard plays the difficult role of an angry Vietnam veteran who returned from what he now regards as a meaningless war minus an arm, an eye, and a leg. He hates the fat cats-feeling that they conned him and others into patriotically serving while they stayed home, and he resents his best friend Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges) who avoided the war and continues to avoid any involvement or commitment. Commitment is Alexander Cutter's one remaining virtue, when he sets his sights on taking down an arrogant oil tycoon who has gotten away with murdering a 17 year old cheerleader, he stubbornly refuses to give up this mission and insists on doing it his way..

Heard should have gotten the Best Actor Oscar in 1981 (it went to Henry Fonda for "On Golden Pond") but "Cutter's Way" was not popular with critics and viewers so Heard was not even nominated for this role. It is an amazing performance as Heard must win audience sympathy for a character who is not only unpleasant, but terribly abusive to everyone, including his wife and his only two remaining friends. But he earns our admiration with his final act as a knight (on a white horse) who gallops into danger to avenge his wife's murder.

With this Cutter is finally revealed as a romantic who is willing to back up his angry words and seemingly empty threats. His anger is over more than his futile wartime sacrifice. He feels frustration and confusion because while he has remained the same, the world has changed around him in ways antithetical to his beliefs (can you identify with that?). He recognizes that he has become irrelevant to this world but is not going out until he has made a last stand. His commitment ultimately gets Bone to take his first moral stand and finish what his friend started, doing it "Cutter's Way".

Like "Fat City" (another of Jeff Bridges' early films) "Cutter's Way" is more appreciated now than at the time of its release. In part this is because both of these films have held up very well, if anything their political messages are even more relevant today. And make no mistake, thematically "Cutter's Way" is a political film-both anti-war and anti-power; very much in the tradition of "Chinatown" and the world of Raymond Chandler adaptations.

This film is essentially a character study with an expressionistic ending. Most action/adventure fans will find it way too slow and cerebral for their tastes. The acting and the themes are its strength, the contrived story is a non-fatal flaw. The multi-dimensionality of Cutter, Bone, and Cutter's wife Mo (an extraordinary performance by Lisa Eichhorn) are carefully crafted and revealed by director Ivan Passer. Cutter's other remaining friend George (Arthur Rosenberg) is equally well crafted but more secondary to the story.

A fifth character (the dead cheerleader's older sister played by Ann Dusenberry) appears to be a victim of the post-production process as she simply disappears without explanation about 20 minutes before the film's end. Normally the absence of a supporting character would go unnoticed but Dusenberry had done such a nice job developing this character (maximizing what little she was given to work with) that the absence is glaring. Contemporary audiences will see a lot of Dominique Swain in Dusenberry. They not only look enough alike to be sisters but they have the same confident flare to their acting style. Passer had to work hard to keep Dusenberry reined in but succeeded in getting a nice restrained performance from her, her high intensity peaks through just enough to convey that there is more to her character than meets the eye.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."