Fat City (1972)
Directed by John Huston
John Huston doesn't need to show you any stinking badges. Like his buddy Orson Welles, Huston made an impact both as a filmmaker (The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The African Queen) and as a character actor (Faye Dunaway's father in Chinatown). Even as a real-life parent, to Anjelica and Danny, he left his mark on the American cinema. And so if some of his later pictures (think Victory, the Sly Stallone WWII soccer flick) aren't exactly first-rate, others deserve Film Forum's 35mm restoration treatment, including the dreary, drunken Fat City.
Huston was an ace at literary adaptations (his version of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood was reissued by Criterion in May) and Fat City remains a masterpiece not just for his way with his actors but for his faith in screenwriter Leonard Gardner's beyond-natural dialogue and hobo pacing. (Gardner was adapting his own cult novel.)
Fat City tells the loosely connected stories of two "professional" boxers living in the pissant town of Stockton, California. Stacy Keach is Tully, a has-been fighter now devoted to the bottle, but inspired to seek former glory by Ernie (Jeff Bridges), a skinny, younger puncher who shows some promise. Neither of them, of course, will ever amount to anything-and that's the beauty of this rare ode to losers. Shot under the blazing light of the NorCal sun by legendary cinematographer Conrad Hall, Fat City isn't really about boxing at all, but about the brutal contest of everyday life.
September 18-October 1 at Film Forum