Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1981. Gurian Entertainment. Screenplay by Jeffrey Alan Fiskin, based on the novel Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg. Cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth. Produced by Paul R. Gurian. Music by Jack Nitzsche. Production Design by Josan F. Russo. Costume Design by Jane Ruhm. Film Editing by Caroline Biggerstaff.
Exceptional, moody thriller that plays like James Ellroy. While leaving a bar one night, Jeff Bridges witnesses someone throwing something in the trash which turns out to be the body of a young woman. A few days later, while watching a parade with his war veteran best friend (John Heard), Bridges espies a local tycoon and realizes that he was the man he saw doing the deed. Heard is obsessed with chasing after the accused and nailing him for the crime, while Bridges practices caution, and despite this difference in tactic they both end up in deep trouble as they are pressured by some very powerful enemies to leave the situation alone. More impressively, all this plotting takes a comfortable back seat to the interactions, frustrations and disappointments of characters with difficult relationships, particularly the two men and Heard’s unhappy, alcoholic wife (Lisa Eichhorn). The film brilliantly balances the thriller narrative without letting the personal stuff bog it down, and the sense of atmosphere hanging over it all is unforgettable.