Cutter's Way

6.81 h 49 min1981R
This intriguing film features John Heard as a boozy, belligerent Vietnam vet who seeks passionate revenge on a murderer after his aimless friend (Jeff Bridges) is falsely accused of the crime.
Ivan Passer
Jeff BridgesJohn HeardLisa Eichhorn
English (US) [CC]English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Stephen ElliottArthur RosenbergAnn Dusenberry
Paul R. Gurian
R (Restricted)
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.1 out of 5 stars

159 global ratings

  1. 53% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 24% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 7% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 6% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

JonReviewed in the United States on July 30, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Has only grown in significance over the years
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I saw this film, by the excellent Czech New Wave director Ivan Passer (LOVES OF A BLONDE), when it was first released theatrically. At the time I was struck by the force of John Heard's performance as the wounded war vet, but above all, from that first screening, I recall the sunlit "California noir" or "neo-noir" feeling that the director and cinematographer managed to evoke as few others have done. Upon seeing it now, I was instead taken with Lisa Eichhorn's performance . . . her understated control of her face and voice are masterful, and it's all the more of a pity that she left Hollywood, or that Hollywood left her, so soon after this picture was completed. The plot seems completely contemporary to the America of 2020.
5 people found this helpful
Mark TurnerReviewed in the United States on July 28, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I remember hearing about the movie CUTTER’S WAY when it was released back in 1981. I never had the opportunity to see it at the time because it left as soon as it came, a critically acclaimed film that never found an audience. I finally got the chance to see it years later on cable and loved it. I found it hard to believe that it never did well at the box office but the way it was released had more to do with that than anything. Great movies given little push or promotion that are not allowed time for audiences to discover them are multitude in number. Thank goodness home video and then discs have allowed that to change and these movies given a chance to be found.

The movie tells the story of two friends. Alex Cutter (John Heard) is a war torn Vietnam vet who lost an eye, a leg and an arm while there. Bitter and alcoholic he lives with his wife ‘Mo’ (Lisa Eichhorn), another alcoholic loved by both Cutter and Bone, complaining and abusing her mentally. He is not the most sympathetic character you will find on film but as we come to know him there is something there.

Cutter’s friend is Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges), a small time gigolo who’s not the brightest crayon in the box. One night Bone’s car breaks down during a rain storm and he is forced to leave it behind. Before leaving to get help he sees a large car pull into the alleyway he’s stuck in, someone get out of the car and dump a large object nearby and then leave. The next day when he reads that the body of a young woman was found brutally murdered in the alley he becomes a suspect.

While at a parade with Cutter, the two watch until Bone thinks he recognizes the man who dumped the body in the alley. The man is local tycoon J.J. Cord and the odds of him being arrested let alone convicted are slim. Bone lets it go but Cutter has other plans. Still raw from the treatment he received in war at the hands of those in high positions, Cutter begins looking for clues that will bring the guilty man to justice. In so doing he will put himself, his family and his friend in greater danger.

The story may sound simple and in some ways it is. Instead it is the character study of those involved that makes this a great film. It becomes a whodunit wrapped around the characters in the film, in particular Cutter. It elevates it from what could have been a pulp novel into something much more than that.

A large part of the success of the film lies in the performance of John Heard. Prior to this Heard hadn’t found any huge roles to raise him from secondary status. Following this he began to do so with the high profile CAT PEOPLE. Still, he never quite made it to the top when it came to roles which is sad. On display here in this film he showed that he wasn’t a pretty face or a typical leading man but a solid actor whose abilities were rarely tapped. Cutter comes to life in the performance Heard gives here and that’s an amazing ability.

The rest of the cast is equally impressive. Bridges has always been an overlooked actor who deserves more recognition as well, but at least he achieved mega-star status. Perhaps this is due to a better agent or the fact that Bridges was in more populist films. Eichhorn as the beleaguered wife who still loves her husband is great. She brings a sympathy to the character in her suffering and affection.

The history of the film is that it was lost in the shuffle of new executives at the studio and dumped when released. A few bad notices the first week meant that the release was provided with little advertising and left to come and go. That changed week two when several rave reviews arrived and it was given over to their classics division. Even that didn’t save the film from leaving screens at the time. At least it can be rediscovered now.

Twilight Time has again given us the opportunity to watch the film in the cleanest and clearest picture possible. Extras are limited to an isolated score track, audio commentary with film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman and the original theatrical trailer. As with all their titles the quantity of this one is limited so do yourself a favor and make sure you pick one up before they’re all gone.
9 people found this helpful
John GarganiReviewed in the United States on June 1, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Cop-out ending spoils tour de force acting jobs!!!
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John Heard is probably one of the most underrated actor out there, no doubt sabotaged by the similar sounding actor by the name of John Hurt ( he , of the iconic chest bursting scene in the original Alien ), but in this move, when he was relatively unknown, he turns in an academy award quality acting job that is both amazing, but hard to watch due to it's sadness......

Equally brilliant, but also sad, is the job turned in by Lisa Eichorn, and between the two of them, screen legend, Jeff Bridges, is left out in the lurch, as, his character does not have nearly the emotional anguish of these other two......

Nevertheless, the three of them make for an interesting love triangle, as there is a murder mystery to be solved, and it cannot avoid affecting all of their lives.....and it will have you enthralled for most of the movie, but then: ZINGO: a very prosaic cop out ending, that when the credits start coming on , you say to yourself: "Oh please, don't do this to me"!

I will leave out the spoiler, but most people I talk to are not happy about the ending at all, especially considering the more deliberate pace of the entire movie....

Still and all, it is a curiosity of a lesser known, but critically acclaimed movie, and will give you food for thought.
2 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on April 26, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Probably John Heard's most unique role as a lunatic drunk
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John Heard and Jeff Bridges make an interesting duo in this murder mystery. Heard is a lunatic drunk while Bridges is his best friend who is always having to clean up after him. This has got to be Heard’s most unique role. A lot of times he got typecast. Here he’s free and wild. He gets completely carried away with the killing. Bridges on the other hand has played these types of characters before. He’s good looking and a ladies’ man. They did draw me into the story.
2 people found this helpful
Frederick A. M.Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Although it's a depressing film, it's still above average!
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The story meanders around for most of the film, and then BLAM! It's difficult not to like the three main characters portrayed by Lisa Eichorn, Jeff Bridges, and John Heard. Then there's the 'heavy' portrayed by the ever villainous character actor, Stephen Elliott. One doesn't get more sinister than him. He portrayed a similar character in the movie, 'Arthur,' starring Dudley Moore. Elliott is such a good actor that I've never liked the sight of him. He is like the epitome of evil in Hollywood characters. They all stack up to a fantastic cast in an above-average movie. I recommend it.
Eric WarrenReviewed in the United States on May 1, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
Let's talk about the Leg, Alex
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Liked it the first time I saw it (when it came out, yikes) and liked it as much this time. A bit mystified by the ending, but with this boozy "Black Thriller" the journey is most definitely the reward. A pre-Lebowski Jeff Bridges, who apparently got the part because of his work in, wait for it, "Heaven's Gate", is superb. John Heard, who may be one of the most under-rated, and under-used American actors chews the scenery as Alex Cutter, a Vietnam vet who has had trouble 're-engaging' with life. I think this is Heard's best role. The real treat, though, is Lisa Eichhorn as Cutter's long-suffering wife, Mo. A terrific performance anchors a plot in which the center most definitely cannot hold. Heard's character Bone is wrongly considered a person of interest in connection with a Murder, and his buddy Alex decides to make finding the real killer his latest crusade, with unfortunate consequences that I won't spoil. With some questionable choices with respect to soft focus photography, which seems to have been all the rage in the 1980s, Santa Barbara nonetheless looks gorgeous, and provides the perfect counterpoint to the possibly nefarious doings of its wealthy-but-untouchable 1% set. Great stuff, and seems to have aged reasonably well.
6 people found this helpful
Laura LReviewed in the United States on July 22, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
in memory of the late great John Heard
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Just watched this again, in memory of the late great John Heard. It's a gem of a film with remarkable performances from Heard, Jeff Bridges, and Lisa Eichhorn. Anyone familiar with Santa Barbara and Montecito will appreciate the setting. The plot elements (wounded Vietnam vet, alcoholic wife, arrogant oil tycoon) could have been cliché or melodramatic if less skillfully handled, but the script , direction, and acting come together to leave a lasting impression of a flawed character's stand against evil and injustice.
8 people found this helpful
TurtlebannanaReviewed in the United States on January 31, 2022
2.0 out of 5 stars
John Heard is just a terrible over-actor
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John Heard is just a terrible over-actor. I can't comprehend how some reviews sing his praises. He's insufferable. Bridges and Eichhorn are solid. That said, the script is ludicrous and it drags the movie down to barely tolerable.
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