Prime Cut

From Academic Kids

Prime Cut is a 1972 American movie produced by Joe Wizan and directed by Michael Ritchie, with a screenplay written by Robert Dillon. The movie stars Lee Marvin as a mob enforcer from Chicago sent to Kansas to collect a debt from a meatpacker boss played by Gene Hackman. Sissy Spacek appears in her first credited on-screen role as a young orphan sold into prostitution. The movie was considered highly risqué for its time based on its violence, as well as its graphic depiction of white slavery, including a scene depicting the auctioning of young women in the manner of beef cattle. It is also noted for its depiction of the beef slaughtering process, and a famous chase scene involving a combine in an open field.



The movie opens with a credit sequence that follows a slaughterhouse process in from the unloading of the cattle to making of sausages. The woman operating the sausage machine is interrupted by Weenie (Gregory Walcott), who has timed the machine using his watch. He stops the machine, wraps up a string of sausages, and marks the package with an address in Chicago.

It is later revealed that Weenie is the brother of Mary Ann (Gene Hackman), the crooked operator of the slaughterhouse in Kansas City, Kansas. The particular sausages that Weenie was wrapping were made from the remains of an enforcer from the Chicago Irish mob sent to Kansas City to collect 500,000 dollars from Mary Ann.

After the head of the Irish mob in Chicago receives the package, he contacts Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin), an enforcer with whom he has worked previously, in order to go to Kansas City to collect the debt. He tells Marvin about the sausages and that another enforcer sent to Kansas City was found floating in the Missouri River.

Devlin agrees to the fee of 50,000 dollars and asks for some additional muscle. He receives a driver and three other younger members of the Irish mob for help, including the young O'Brien, who makes Marvin meet his mother as he leaves Chicago.

It is later revealed that Devlin and Mary Ann have a shared history involving Mary Ann's wife Clarabelle, who previously had an affair with Devlin.

Devlin and his men drive to Kansas City. They stop at a flop house, where Devlin finds Weenie in an upstairs room. He beats up Weenie and tell him to inform Mary Ann that he is in town to collect the debt.

The next day Devlin and his men find Mary Ann in a barn where Mary Ann is entertaining guests during a white slavery auction. He demands the money from Mary Ann, who tells him to come to county fair the next day to get it. Mary Ann tells Devlin that Chicago is an "an old sow, begging for cream" that should be melted down.

As they are standing next to a cattle pen with young women offered for auction, one of them, who is later revealed to have the name Poppy (Spicy Spacek), begs Devlin for help. Devlin takes her with him "on account". Back at the hotel he puts in a large bed in their suite to recuperate. When he wakes up, she tells Devlin about her history of being sold into white slavery from an orphanage in Missouri. Devlin promises to take her to the fair the next day.

The next day at the county fair, in the midst of a livestock judging competition, Mary Ann gives Devlin a box that supposedly contains the money. When Devlin opens the box on the spot, he finds it contains only beef hearts. Mary Ann's men then chase Devlin, his men, and Poppy through the fair. O'Brien is killed underneath a set of bleachers. Devlin and Poppy escape into a nearby wheat field, where they escape detection. When they try to leave the field, however, they are accosted by a combine operator. Poppy falls while running and they are nearly sliced by the combine's blades.

Devlin and Poppy are saved by the arrival of Devlin's men in their car, which they abandon and let ram into the front of combine. Devlin kills the combine operator. In one of the most memorable scenes from the movie, the entire car is demolished by the threshing apparatus and turned into bales of hay.

With their car destroyed, Devlin and his men hitch a ride back into Kansas City on a truck. Devlin jumps off the truck near the river and sends the rest of them with Poppy back into town. He enters a houseboat, the luxurious accommodations of Mary Ann and his wife Clarabelle, who is there alone. He gets information on the whereabouts of Mary Ann. Clarabelle attempts to seduce him, but he rebuffs her. Clarabelle tells him she would be perfectly happy being a widow and joining Devlin again.

When he returns to the hotel with a new car for his crew, Devlin finds an ambulance out front, with two of his men being hauled away. He learns that Mary Ann's men ambushed them and took poppy. He and his two remaining men drive out to Mary Ann's farm to finally take care of business. On the way, Devlin takes out a submachine gun from a case.

Devlin stops the car on the edge of a field of sunflowers near Mary Ann's farm. They approach the farm through the field and engage in a long gun battle with Mary Ann's men. Both of Devlin's met are hit. He tells them to stay behind while he advances with the submachine gun. Unable to get past Mary Ann's men, he accosts a semi truck driver hauling livestock. He commandeers the truck and uses it ram the gate and smash into the greenhouse on the farm, demolishing it.

Devlin kills several of Mary Ann's men then advances into the barn where Mary Ann and his brother are holding Poppie. From behind a bale of hay, he hits Mary Ann, who falls injured from the top of the barn. Enraged at seeing his brother shot, Weenie runs toward Devlin, who kills him. As he dies, Weenie tries to stab Devlin with a sausage.

Devlin carries Poppy out of the barn. They pass the wounded Mary Ann, flat on his back, next to a sow pen. Mary Ann taunts Devlin to kill him, telling him to finish off, like he would an animal. Devlin tells him that since Mary Ann is not an animal, he won't do that. He walks away, leaving Mary Ann to die on his back.

Note: the scene involving Mary Ann at the end was adapted somewhat by Clint Eastwood in the 1992 movie The Unforgiven, in which Hackman plays a villain who taunts his killer while lying wounded on his back after a gun battle.




  • Lee Marvin - Nick Devlin
  • Gene Hackman - Mary Ann
  • Angel Tompkins - Clarabelle
  • Gregory Walcott - Weenie
  • Sissy Spacek - Poppy
  • Janit Baldwin - Violet
  • William Morey - Shay
  • Clint Ellison - Delaney
  • Howard Platt - Shaughnessy
  • Les Lannom - O'Brien
  • Eddie Egan - Jake
  • Therese Reinsch - Jake's Girl
  • Bob Wilson - Reaper Driver
  • Gordon Signer - Brockman
  • Gladys Watson - Milk Lady

External link

  • IMDb entry (

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