“Fat City”: Not One Of Huston’s Best

Once again I have not read the source material for a particular film—the 1972 Fat City—taken from a novel by Leonard Gardner. Charles Thomas Samuels did not find the film to be the success that the novel is, and, sure enough, although Gardner wrote the script, the John Huston-directed movie does seem slight and vague and even inartistic.

With force and imagination Stacy Keach plays a damaged ex-boxer, now a boozer, who finally tries to go back to the ring. The inability of a vocation (e.g. professional boxer) to sustain a person psychologically and spiritually is a theme here, but Fat City is a frail deliverer of it. This is despite the headway Keach makes, which headway he shares with actors Nicholas Colasanto, Jeff Bridges and Candy Clark. No “fat city,” meaning “out of condition” (Samuels), from them.

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