Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Opening Titles: Prime Cut

prime-cut

Admittedly, I have a distinct penchant for films that clamored out of the turbulent 1970s. Even more so for those of the crime variety that may have rattled some, even while they entertained those of us who were lucky to catch them first-run.  One such forgotten gem, which recently Kino Lorber brought back to high-definition glory, was Michael Ritchie’s Prime Cut (1972). A poetically violent Midwest tale of misdeeds with enough off-beat humor and style that helped define what was unique about this era of cinema in the first place.

The film contained not only a cast of movie titans, including Lee Marvin at his coolest, Gene Hackman chewing scenes as only he can, along with Sissy Spacek’s superbly ethereal cinematic debut, but featured another captivating opening title sequence. Main titles that essentially set in motion the story’s nasty rivalry between big city Chicago and their Kansas City crime cohorts. With murder and meat processing part and parcel of the opening salvo aimed at the audience. What can I say, it was the ’70s.

The sequence follows “Weenie”, the brother-henchman of “Mary Ann” (Gene Hackman), the late and wonderful character actor Gregory Walcott, as he “processes” his opposite number through their Midwest slaughterhouse. A fascinating, even if it’s a bit off-putting (well enough to make one go vegan), segment of how frankfurters are made, with unforeseen ingredients. From whole cow to finished product, all as the bold titles move laterally across the screen and are cut in two…to a bone-trimming sound effect.

Much like the film itself, cinematographer Gene Polito adeptly lensed the efficiency of the meat-packing alongside title designer Don Record‘s clever credits, bringing it all to a “…higher level narrative function – setting the tone, establishing the mood and visual character of the film”, as Li Yu described in her 2008 film title thesis. What made it all strangely palatable, though, was Lalo Schifrin’s rapturously divergent theme, which seemingly kicked in through the loudspeaker as the scene entered the guts of the operation:

prime-cut-title-sign

The warning sign over the slaughterhouse entrance part of the tongue-in-cheek humor of “Prime Cut”.

The wickedly trenchant title sequence a pluperfect onset to Michael Ritchie’s satirical ’70s mayhem that made the crime and corruption depicted on the wheat-strewn homeland as American as county fairs, apple pie, and of course, hot dogs.

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18 Responses to “Opening Titles: Prime Cut”

  1. Paul S

    Luckily I’d just finished eating my lunch of Cabannosi sausage when I saw your post in my reader.
    I always enjoy Prime Cut’s classic 70’s gritty, crime film style, greasing it’s action with lurid sleaze, and where else can you watch a car get eaten by a combine harvester!

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Described it to a tee, Paul. Oh, yes. That a wonderful scene that recreates Hitchcock’s cropduster scene from “North by Northwest” with that interesting “climax”. Thanks, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. 70srichard

    I need to do a post on this film. It definitely has that 70s sleaze vibe. Two of my favorite tough guys and a nasty crime setting, this demands another viewing soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Couldn’t agree with you more, Richard. “Prime Cut” is deserving of more scrutiny. The new blu-ray worth obtaining. Thanks, my friend.

      Like

      Reply
  3. jackdeth72

    Great opening intro, Michael!

    Of a film I’d seen ago on the Big Screen long ago. Courtesy of Armed Forces Films in Panama.

    Comes as close to humanly possible in revealing how sausage is made. Away from Capitol Hill.

    Love the black loafer showing up in mid process.

    Also a fairly decent Shoot ’em Up! “Guy Flick”. With two of the best Tough Guys of 1970s American cinema as deadly protagonists!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      I knew you had screened and cherished this one, Kevin. You always seem to have gotten some great flicks down there in Panama, I see. Thanks so much, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • jackdeth72

        Armed Forces Films were kind of hit or miss. For every ‘M*A*S*H’, ‘Hickey & Boggs, ‘Payday’ or ‘Prime Cut’. There was a ‘Truck Turner’, ‘Pete, Pearl and The Pole’ or ‘Danger Man’ to contend with.

        But air conditioning, popcorn and a Coke beat the heck out of stickily humid nights, any day.

        Also great to see Hackman playing a ruthless bad guy against and equally ruthless Lee Marvin!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • le0pard13

          Yeah, I’d certainly rather be in air conditioning watching an iffy movie than sweat like Martin Sheen did in “Apocalypse Now’. 😉

          Like

          Reply
    • le0pard13

      Definitely worth looking up and catching, Mark. If you enjoy ’70s cinema, “Prime Cut” is a must. Thanks, my friend. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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