A Fiesta Film Noir

Viva la Celluloid

If Fiesta brings out the Grinch in you, there’s no better way to celebrate than by renting a copy of Cutter’s Way, a genuinely grimy noir thriller set in Santa Barbara during Fiesta. Starring Jeff Bridges, John Heard, and Lisa Eichhorn, this 1981 film follows a trio of painfully dissolute losers who, after stumbling onto a murder, hope to make big bucks by blackmailing the murderer. For them, the good and bad news is the killer happens to be Fiesta’s El Presidente, a scary dude named J.J. Cord. And if anyone can find a more thinly disguised dig at J.J. Hollister, it would probably be the basis for a libel suit. Czech director Ivan Passer coats the whole thing with such a thick film of nastiness you have to take a long, hot shower afterward. But given how Jeff Bridges has since become a card-carrying Santa Barbaran-and embraced the community with such public-spirited generosity-there’s no shortage of delicious irony.

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