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Film / Prime Cut

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Prime Cut is a 1972 neo-noir crime film directed by Michael Ritchie, starring Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman and Sissy Spacek.

Irish Mob enforcer Nick Devlin (Marvin) travels from Chicago to Kansas City to collect an outstanding debt from the violent slaughterhouse owner Mary Ann (Hackman).


  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Shea volunteers for the hit because Devlin saved his life during the war.
  • Big Bad: The Faux Affably Evil Mary Ann has his enemies murdered and ground into sausage meat.
  • Briefcase Blaster: Devlin carries a leather attache case containing a sub-machine gun.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Devlin is a very dangerous man, but Mary Ann is involved with Human Trafficking, pimping, murder, and much worse.
  • Cool Old Guy: Team Dad Devlin wears sharp suits and plays it cool in dangerous situations.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Devlin takes Poppy to dinner in a transparent dress, and then grins like a Dirty Old Man when the other customers stare at her. He is still very protective of her and she returns his affections.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Devlin refuses to kill a wounded Mary Ann, and leaves him to die on his back in the pig pen.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mary Ann hides his vicious nature behind a friendly and civilized facade.
  • Fed to Pigs: Mary Ann feeds the remains of his enemies to the pigs to dispose of the evidence, and improve the flavor of the meat.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Devlin and Shea were soldiers before becoming gangsters.
  • Going Commando: Poppy wears nothing under her dress.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Mary Ann's redneck henchmen have bowl cuts, and Weenie has the Bald of Evil.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Poppy blushes when the other restaurant patrons stare at her cleavage.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: It is hinted that girls who have outlived their usefulness are ground into mincemeat and sold to unsuspecting customers.
  • May–December Romance: The 50 year old Devlin falls in love with teenage prostitute Poppy.
  • Old Soldier: Devlin's Bad Ass Driver Shea is a World War II veteran. Devlin is one of the longest serving enforcers in The Irish Mob.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Poppy endures a traumatic childhood of neglect and physical abuse before being sold into prostitution when she came of age.
  • The Patriarch: Devlin acts like A Father to His Men and attempts to keep them alive until the end of the mission.
  • Parental Substitute: Poppy falls for Devlin because she never had a father of her own.
  • People Farms: On Mary Anne's farm, orphaned girls are sold into prostitution like cattle being auctioned for their meat.The girls are also named after prize winning cows, like Poppy, Violet or Clarabelle.
  • Pretty Boy: O'Brien is barely 20 and still lives with his mother.
  • Rural Gangsters: Mary Ann is a Slaughterhouse owner and mob boss in Kansas City, who lives on a cattle farm, has minions who dress in bib overalls and turns people who upset him into sausages. He likewise runs a particularly brutal Human Trafficking scheme where he gets vulnerable orphaned girls addicted to drugs and then sells them as Sex Slaves in a manner deliberately designed to resemble livestock sales (with him even mockingly renaming the girls after prize-winning cows just to twist the knife further). He's contrasted against Nick Devlin, a gangster from the Irish Mob in Chicago (who likewise has a much more professional, refined and urban aesthetic) who comes to collect an outstanding debt from him, after Mary killed the previous two guys who came for the money.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Poppy knocks out the brothel madam who abused her at the orphanage.
  • Vehicular Assault: A mook in a combine harvester tries to crush Devlin.
  • Vapor Wear: Poppy is given a transparent green dress by Devlin.
  • Wardens Are Evil: The old Evil Orphanage Lady who runs the Orphanage of Fear.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Poppy's friend Violet is raped and beaten, she's only seen in the background of the orphanage scene, making her very easy to miss.
  • Wicked Cultured: Devlin is accustomed to eating in fine restaurants.
  • Young Gun: O'Brien, the youngest of Devlin's men, is eager to prove himself despite being very inexperienced.