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Directed by John Huston

United States 1972 100 mins.

A Hollywood legend of outsized proportions, Huston returned to critical and commercial success with the late-career Fat City, which trades in the classically drunken crime and adventure noir (The Big Sleep, Treasure of the Sierra Madre) upon which he built a career for a more worldly—and world-weary—neo-noir milieu of amateur boxing. Stacy Keach is unforgettable here as Billy Tully, a washed-up fighter who, upon forming a friendship with the 18-year-old Ernie Munger (Jeff Bridges), decides to try his luck again at a career in the ring. Along the way he meets a career barfly (Susan Tyrrell), but this is not the kind of relationship upon which romantic movie dreams are normally built. Prismatic in its portrayal of a working class with few solid life options beyond menial labor, shabby bars, and the ring from which they cannot escape, Fat City “is a barbed, bitter pill that hurts like hell going down—especially if you aren’t expecting the pain. Once you’ve swallowed it, it’s impossible to watch fight films with a sense of escapism.”—Dante A. Ciampaglia, The Paris Review.

Read Roger Ebert’s review of Fat City (1/1/1972)