Cutter's Way

[2.5 stars] [IMDB Link]

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So I'm reading the (huge) book The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and their Creators by Martin Edwards. Reader, I'm pretty sure he references every single mystery writer and book over the past couple hundred years. For example, Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg. This critically-acclaimed 1976 book was made into this movie right here in 1981, to critical hurrahs. Based on Edwards' description and the fact that it was a free-with-ads streamer on Tubi, I checked it out. I wasn't that impressed, but YMMV.

Bone (Jeff Bridges) is a boat salesman/gigolo in Santa Barbara; he's crashing with his longtime friend Cutter (John Heard), a bitter, addled drunk, badly damaged (physically and mentally) in Vietnam. Cutter is married to saintly, patient Mo (Lisa Eichhorn). One fateful night, Bone's car breaks down in a poorly-lit alley. He's dimly aware of a larger car disposing of … something in that very same alley, and it nearly runs him down. The next day, it develops that the "something" was a female corpse, and since Bone's dead car is nearby, he becomes the prime suspect.

He's quickly cleared. Based on Bone's vague recollections and sheer coincidence, Cutter develops a theory that the murderer was actually the tycoon J. J. Cord. And, together with the murdered girl's sister, he develops an unlikely scheme to blackmail Cord. If Cord pays up, then they'll use it as evidence to bring him to justice!

It's a crazy idea, but it just might work? Well, no. That plan fails badly. And then tragedy strikes, which may or may not be related. This only makes Cutter more obsessed with bringing Cord to justice. And then things get even worse. (No further spoilers, but Wikipedia calls it "neo noir", and you know what happens in those.)

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:55 PM EDT