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Fat City (film)

Fat City (1972) is an American boxing drama film directed by John Huston. The picture stars Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, and Susan Tyrrell.

The movie, one of John Huston's later triumphs, is based on the boxing novel Fat City (1969) by Leonard Gardner, who also wrote the screenplay.

Tyrrell received an Oscar nomination as the world weary Oma.


The film tells of alcoholic farm laborer Tully (Keach) who lives with Oma (Tyrrell) and is trying to make a boxing comeback. Yet, his personal problems overpower him.

Fellow Stockton resident and fighter Ernie (Bridges) takes Tully's advice to join Ruben's (Nicholas Colasanto) gym and make something of himself.

Learning the lesson that "winning is not as easy as it sounds," Ernie is determined to get what he can out of boxing and, unlike Tully, not let set-backs get the best of him.


The film was shot mostly in Stockton, California. According to the Stockton newspaper The Record's website, Stockton and the surrounding San Joaquin County was once a desirable place to shoot films due to its varied landscapes within considerably short distances of one another. In fact, many films have been filmed in the city and county.

Another factor was the smaller production fees that had to be paid to the county by the producers.

The drama is featured in the documentary Visions Of Light: The Art Of Cinematography (1992) for Conrad L. Hall's use of lighting.



The film premiered in the United States on July 26, 1972.

The film was screened at various film festivals, including: the Cannes Film Festival, France, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, USA; and others.

Critical reception

Critic Vincent Canby, film critic for The New York Times, liked the film and John Huston's direction, and wrote, "This is grim material but Fat City is too full of life to be as truly dire as it sounds. Ernie and Tully, along with Oma (Susan Tyrrell), the sherry-drinking barfly Tully shacks up with for a while, the small-time fight managers, the other boxers and assorted countermen, upholsterers, and lettuce pickers whom the film encounters en route, are presented with such stunning and sometimes comic accuracy that Fat City transcends its own apparent gloom.

Roger Ebert liked the film as well and he makes the case it's one of John Huston's best films. He also appreciated the acting performances. Ebert wrote, "[Huston] treats [the story] with a level, unsentimental honesty and makes it into one of his best films...[and] the movie's edges are filled with small, perfect character performances.





External links

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  • Fat City at Film Noir of the Week.

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