Slacker Richard Bone's (Bridges) car breaks down in an alleyway on a rainy evening. The next day a murder victim is found there making him a suspect. Bone, though, believes a local tycoon is behind the killing. Enlisting the help of his friend Alex Cutter (Heard) and the dead girl's sister, he begins to uncover a dangerous conspiracy.
Adapted from Newton Thornburg’s novel Cutter And Bone, this is a masterly outsider’s view of an America still reeling from Vietnam and Watergate. Aiming to prove oil tycoon Stephen Elliott murdered a cheerleader, wastrel Jeff Bridges and buddy John Heard try being avenging angels to strike a blow to the establishment. But Heard’s boozy wife, Lisa Eichhorn, is less convinced by their cackhanded scheme. Plumbing depths of self-loathing and despair, the trio are exceptional. The screenplay is at times bombastic. But, in reinventing Moby Dick as film noir, Passer examines notions of freedom, responsibility and paranoia with a forensic savagery that makes this the last great film of the New Hollywood era.
Like the '70s output of Pakula and Lumet, Ivan Passer's tense thriller stands as a classy monument to the paranoia of post-Watergate America.