Prime Cut


1h 26m 1972

Brief Synopsis

A Chicago mob enforcer is sent to Kansas City to settle a debt with a cattle rancher who not only grinds his enemies into sausage, but sells women as sex slaves.

Film Details

Also Known As
Kansas City Prime
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Crime
Release Date
Jun 1972
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 Jun 1972; New York opening: 28 Jun 1972
Production Company
Cinema Center Films; Wizan Productions
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United States
Location
Calgary,Canada; Chicago, Illinois, United States; Kansas City, Missouri, United States; Alberta, Canada

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Outside of Kansas City, Missouri, the company Mary Ann's Meats serves as a front for a white slavery and drug ring that is a subsidiary of a Chicago crime syndicate headed by Jake. Having discovered that the male Mary Ann, the proprietor of the meat packing company, has skimmed over a half-million dollars in profit, Jake sends Murphy, one of his mobsters, to collect the funds. However, after Mary Ann grinds Murphy into sausage and sends him back to Chicago as a package of frankfurters, Jake turns to his top enforcer, Nick Devlin, to set Mary Ann straight. After Jake delegates three of his men, Delaney, Shaughnessy and O'Brien, to accompany Nick, they head for Kansas City in a limousine driven by Shay, an old compatriot of Nick. Upon arriving in the city, Nick stops at the Car Hotel, the flophouse that is the home of Mary Ann's brutish brother Weenie. Bursting into Weenie's room, Nick assaults him, crushes his thumb and tells him to deliver a message to Mary Ann that "Nick is here." Later, Nick drives out to the gated farm that houses Mary Ann's meats and pushes his way past the guards to join a sale in progress in the barn. Rather than finding cows in the pens, Nick sees drugged, young, nude girls who are being sold to the highest bidders. Mary Ann is seated at the main banquet table gorging himself on a plate of entrails when Nick slams a carving knife into his plate and demands to talk to him. As they survey the pens, Mary Ann arranges to deliver the money to Nick at the county fair the next day. When Poppy, a freckled, waif-like girl up for sale, whispers to Nick for help, Nick sweeps her up, wraps her in a blanket and carries her off. Nick and the boys check into a suite in a downtown hotel and put the drugged Poppy to bed. Later, when she awakens from her stupor, Poppy marvels at the splendor of the suite and finds herself surrounded by gift boxes containing glamorous gowns. Poppy pulls a diaphanous gown over her bare body, after which Nick escorts her to the hotel dining room for dinner. Over dinner, as the incredulous diners stare at Poppy's breasts, Poppy tells Nick that she was imprisoned in an all-girl orphanage that supplies Mary Ann with girls for auction, and that her only friend was Violet, who was like a sister to her. Meanwhile, at Mary Ann's farm, as the accountants tote up the proceeds from the sale of the girls, Weenie and Mary Ann engage in an affectionate wrestling match that ends with Mary Ann slamming Weenie's head into a wall. Asking Mary Ann if he can borrow a dress from Clarabelle, Nick's fomer lover and now Mary Ann's wife, Weenie takes the garment to the greenhouse behind the barn, where Violet is imprisoned. At the fair the next day, Mary Ann awards prizes to little boys for the prized pet animals, then leads the animals to slaughter. When Nick arrives, Mary Ann instructs one of his men to hand him a package, but when Nick throws the box down, causing it to split open, cow entrails rather than cash spill out, prompting Nick to warn Mary Ann that "he just bought the farm." Poppy, meanwhile, spots a bedraggled Violet, who has been brought to the fair by Weenie. As Poppy runs toward her, Violet, intending to eviscerate Weenie, pulls a knife from the belt of a butcher standing next to her. After Weenie slugs Violet, Nick, sensing danger, grabs Poppy's hand and heads into the crowd, chased by Mary Ann's strapping, young, blond bodyguards. Nick and Poppy, who take refuge under the bleachers, are followed by O'Brien, and when O'Brien tries to fend off several of the bodyguards, he is shot and killed. Nick and Poppy then run into the turkey-shooting contest, but when the bodyguards try to follow, the judge disarms them. Running through the woods and into the wheat fields for cover, Nick and Poppy dive deep into the grasses, obscuring themselves from the pursuing bodyguards, who then return to the woods. Thinking they are safe, Nick and Poppy start walking across the wheat fields, only to find themselves chased by the driver of a reaper. Just as the jaws of the reaper are about to close in on them, Shay speeds through the field, smashes the limo into the reaper and shoots its driver. After their car is ground up in the reaper blades, Shay, Poppy and Nick get a lift to town in a truck. Nick then proceeds to a houseboat owned by Clarabelle. Clad in a skimpy nightgown, Clarabelle declares that she has sent the crew home for the night, then lists all the assets that Mary Ann has put in her name. When she tries to seduce her former lover, however, he bolts onto the dock, unties the boat and casts it adrift down the Mississippi. Upon returning to the hotel, Nick learns that while Shay and Shaughnessy went to procure a new car, Mary Ann's thugs broke into the suite, killed Delaney and kidnapped Poppy. Looking for Weenie, Nick and the others hurry to the Car Hotel, where they find Violet cringing in the corner. Weenie tells them that he "sold" her to some derelicts for a nickel each then made Poppy watch the gang rape. Bent on revenge, the three drive to Mary Ann's farm, and as Shay drives, Nick assembles his automatic rifle in the back seat. Stopping the car at the edge of the farm, Nick, Shay and Shaughnessy stalk through the towering sunflowers surrounding the buildings. When the bodyguards open fire, wounding Shay and Shaughnessy, Nick retaliates with a burst from his automatic rifle, sending them scattering into the corn fields. Running into the road waving his gun, Nick forces a truck driver to stop, then orders him to ram his truck through the farm's gates. After the driver is shot by Mary Ann's men, Nick takes the wheel and steers the onrushing truck through the greenhouse and into the barn. In the rafters, Weenie holds Poppy with a knife to her throat while Mary Ann shoots at Nick, roiling the animals. After eliminating the few remaining bodyguards, Nick shoots Mary Ann, who topples down into the pen of an angry boar. Deranged over his brother's fate, Weenie releases Poppy and then attacks Nick. Imagining that a wiener he has pulled from his pocket is a knife, Weenie attempts to stab Nick with it, and in the struggle, Nick throws Weenie down from the rafters. After carrying Poppy to safety, Nick confronts the mortally wounded Mary Ann, who begs Nick to kill him. Refusing, Nick leaves him to die. Some time later, Shay drives Violet, Shaughnessy, Poppy and Nick to the orphanage, where Nick demands that the proprietress release her charges. After Poppy slugs the woman in the face, the girls run out of the house and frolic in the fields. When Poppy asks what is to happen to her, Nick replies she is coming to Chicago with him.

Film Details

Also Known As
Kansas City Prime
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Crime
Release Date
Jun 1972
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 Jun 1972; New York opening: 28 Jun 1972
Production Company
Cinema Center Films; Wizan Productions
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United States
Location
Calgary,Canada; Chicago, Illinois, United States; Kansas City, Missouri, United States; Alberta, Canada

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

TCM Remembers - Michael Ritchie


Director Michael Ritchie died April 16th at the age of 62. A Wisconsin native, Ritchie studied at Harvard before succumbing to the attractions of the theatre. He started working in television during the 1960s where he directed episodes of The Big Valley and The Man from UNCLE among others. He moved into feature films with Downhill Racer (1969) at star Robert Redford's invitation and later directed Redford again in The Candidate (1972). The latter is a classic look at American political life that hasn't lost any of its power or insights over the years. This was the start of Ritchie's most productive period when he made several films that were both popular and critically acclaimed. You can find his sly wit and sense of critical drama in Smile (1975), The Bad News Bears (1976) and Semi-Tough (1978). By the 1980s, though, Ritchie's films focused less on social criticism and more on stars. The Survivors (1983) with Robin Williams remains under-rated but Ritchie-directed vehicles for Eddie Murphy (1986's The Golden Child), Bette Midler (1980's Divine Madness) and Chevy Chase (two Fletch films) didn't quite achieve their potential. Some of the old Ritchie spark and intelligence appeared in the made-for-cable The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993) which earned him a Directors Guild Award. One of his final films was the long-awaited screen adaptation of The Fantasticks (1995) which partly brought Ritchie back to his theatrical roots.

ANN SOTHERN: 1909 - 2001
Actress Ann Sothern passed away on March 15th at the age of 89. Her film career spanned sixty years and included a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for The Whales of August (1987) and several Emmy nominations for her roles in the TV shows Private Secretary (1953) and The Ann Sothern Show (1958). Sothern was born as Harriette Lake in North Dakota. She made her first film appearance in 1927 in small roles (so small, in fact, that some sources omit any films before 1929) before deciding to work on Broadway instead. Shortly afterwards she signed with Columbia Pictures where studio head Harry Cohn insisted she change her name because there were already too many actors with the last name of Lake. So "Ann" came from her mother's name Annette and "Sothern" from Shakespearean actor E.H. Sothern. For most of the 1930s she appeared in light comedies working with Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, Mickey Rooney and Fredric March. However, it wasn't until she switched to MGM (after a brief period with RKO) and made the film Maisie (1939) that Sothern hit pay dirt. It proved enormously popular and led to a series of nine more films through 1947 when she moved into dramas and musicals. During the 50s, Sothern made a mark with her TV series but returned to mostly second tier movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally she earned an Oscar nomination for her work in 1987's The Whales of August (in which, incidentally, her daughter Tisha Sterling played her at an earlier age). Turner Classic Movies plans to host a retrospective film tribute to her in July. Check back for details in June.

Tcm Remembers - Michael Ritchie

TCM Remembers - Michael Ritchie

Director Michael Ritchie died April 16th at the age of 62. A Wisconsin native, Ritchie studied at Harvard before succumbing to the attractions of the theatre. He started working in television during the 1960s where he directed episodes of The Big Valley and The Man from UNCLE among others. He moved into feature films with Downhill Racer (1969) at star Robert Redford's invitation and later directed Redford again in The Candidate (1972). The latter is a classic look at American political life that hasn't lost any of its power or insights over the years. This was the start of Ritchie's most productive period when he made several films that were both popular and critically acclaimed. You can find his sly wit and sense of critical drama in Smile (1975), The Bad News Bears (1976) and Semi-Tough (1978). By the 1980s, though, Ritchie's films focused less on social criticism and more on stars. The Survivors (1983) with Robin Williams remains under-rated but Ritchie-directed vehicles for Eddie Murphy (1986's The Golden Child), Bette Midler (1980's Divine Madness) and Chevy Chase (two Fletch films) didn't quite achieve their potential. Some of the old Ritchie spark and intelligence appeared in the made-for-cable The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993) which earned him a Directors Guild Award. One of his final films was the long-awaited screen adaptation of The Fantasticks (1995) which partly brought Ritchie back to his theatrical roots. ANN SOTHERN: 1909 - 2001 Actress Ann Sothern passed away on March 15th at the age of 89. Her film career spanned sixty years and included a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for The Whales of August (1987) and several Emmy nominations for her roles in the TV shows Private Secretary (1953) and The Ann Sothern Show (1958). Sothern was born as Harriette Lake in North Dakota. She made her first film appearance in 1927 in small roles (so small, in fact, that some sources omit any films before 1929) before deciding to work on Broadway instead. Shortly afterwards she signed with Columbia Pictures where studio head Harry Cohn insisted she change her name because there were already too many actors with the last name of Lake. So "Ann" came from her mother's name Annette and "Sothern" from Shakespearean actor E.H. Sothern. For most of the 1930s she appeared in light comedies working with Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, Mickey Rooney and Fredric March. However, it wasn't until she switched to MGM (after a brief period with RKO) and made the film Maisie (1939) that Sothern hit pay dirt. It proved enormously popular and led to a series of nine more films through 1947 when she moved into dramas and musicals. During the 50s, Sothern made a mark with her TV series but returned to mostly second tier movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally she earned an Oscar nomination for her work in 1987's The Whales of August (in which, incidentally, her daughter Tisha Sterling played her at an earlier age). Turner Classic Movies plans to host a retrospective film tribute to her in July. Check back for details in June.

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was Kansas City Prime. According to Filmfacts, National General changed the title to Prime Cut to avoid confusion with the M-G-M release Kansas City Bomber. As the opening credits roll, a slaughterhouse sequence is shown in which the cows are slaughtered and butchered into sausage meat as "Weenie" oversees the process. As the blade rises to kill one of the cows, a brief image of a human body appears. Filmfacts noted that location shooting was done in Alberta, Canada, Chicago, Illinois and Kansas City, Missouri. A November 1971 news item in Variety added that the wheat harvest scene was shot in Calgary, Canada.
       Prime Cut marked the first major role and onscreen credit for Sissy Spacek, although several modern sources state that Spacek's first screen appearance was an uncredited walk-on role in the 1970 film Trash (see below). Eddie Egan, who appeared as "Jake," was the New York City detective whose exploits served as the basis for The French Connection, which also starred Gene Hackman as a fictionalized Egan. Modern sources add Jerry Tracey and Judy Williams to the cast.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972

The film marks Sissy Spacek's theatrical debut.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972