Monday, 25 July 2011

thirty years on

In an earlier blog (20 Aug 2010) entitled Second Runs Indeed! I focussed on various central European gems from the Sixties and Seventies, films caught up with, and/or seen again, half a lifetime later. I mentioned a long unavailable classic film noir by the emigré Czech director Ivan Passer, yet another who had gravitated via France towards Hollywood after the upheavals in Europe of 1968. His quite excellent film, Cutter's Way (1981) has now re-emerged in a nice new digital form, and I had the rare pleasure of seeing it again recently, at my local Picturehouse no less. Thirty years on, it's even better than I remembered, with absolutely terrific performances by Jeff Bridges as a beach bum-gigolo, John Heard as his friend Alex Cutter, the cynical, disabled Vietnam vet and Lisa Eichhorn as Cutter's sad alcoholic girlfriend.

As well as a sardonic picture of the sunny American dream turned very dark and sour, it's a full-on noir thriller as bleak as any of those B&W classics from the Forties and Fifties. But then it's scripted from a first-rate novel, one of the most impressive postwar American prose works – Cutter And Bone, by Newton Thornburg (1973). Read the book – if you can get hold of a reprint of this grim yet drily humorous genre masterpiece – and do try to see the film while it's re-released. (Presumably there's a dvd around too?) At any rate the characterisation, dialogue and tension are gripping and the photography and editing are faultless.

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