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Fat City

Fat City (1972)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8.5/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 2,078

My Rating

Movie Info

With a screenplay adapted by Leonard Gardner from his own novel, John Huston's drama examines the meager hopes and resigned dreams of small-time boxers. In limbo between retirement and his youthful prime, alcoholic farm laborer Tully (Stacy Keach) shacks up with fellow outcast Oma (Susan Tyrrell) and keeps trying to make a boxing comeback, but his personal demons repeatedly overpower his ambitions. Meanwhile, fellow Stockton, CA resident and budding fighter Ernie (Jeff Bridges) takes Tully's

PG,

Drama, Classics

Leonard Gardner

Dec 10, 2002

Sony Pictures Entertainment

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (0) | DVD (6)

So you say to yourself, this Fat City is pretty damn realistic, even if you know in your heart that "realistic" and Hollywood should not be printed on the same page-otherwise paper ignites. Still, you're marveling at it.

June 17, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A terse, sharp, downbeat but compassionate look at the underside of smalltown American life in the west.

January 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie is crafty work and very much a show. In one way or another, right down to the percussively abrupt open ending, it's all about being hammered.

September 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Marvellous, grimly downbeat study of desperate lives and the escape routes people construct for themselves, stunningly shot by Conrad Hall.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's edges are filled with small, perfect character performances.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Gardner's screenplay, of course, is something quite special, full of the kind of dialogue that movies usually can't afford, that defines time, place, mood, and character while seemingly going nowhere.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Both an extraordinarily realistic look at the bottom rungs of the fight game and a moving exploration of the human condition.

January 29, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Fat City is most notable for terrific performances all around, especially those of Stacy Keach, Susan Tyrell, and a baby-faced Jeff Bridges.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

Grim and downbeat, John Huston's superlative drama about a bunch of losers in Stockton California is splendidly acted by Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, and particularly Susan Tyrrell in a well-deserved Oscar nominated turn.

August 4, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

The downbeat sports drama is a marvelous understated character study of the marginalized leading desperate lives.

February 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Huston really gets the flavor of Stockton, CA, and with its run-down drinking establishments, sleazy gyms, and bad coffee joints.

October 19, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

There's very little let-up in the gloom and it's best simply to concentrate on the excellent acting, with Tyrrell's Oscar-nominated turn outstanding.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

An insightful, humanist masterwork.

December 23, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Audience Reviews for Fat City

The one consistent theme in all of John Huston's work is perpetual loss -- how it affects, and defines, people. There may not be a more cogent example of this than in his "comeback" film, Fat City, an observant and understated study of desperation and marginalization. It's a shame that Stacy Keach's film career never materialized (though he's had a good run in TV) because he is sensational here. If nothing else, this underrated film is worth seeking out for Conrad Hall's cinematography alone. He has done nothing but brilliant work in his career, but Fat City may be his finest hour.
August 23, 2012
JonathanHutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

John Huston's pictures are humane. All he had was sympathy and respect for those men and women born losers, survivors, ordinary people with struggles, sacrifices, constant boredom, values, cares, hopes, little but fruitful victories, plus scattered and rare but strong connections between them, that help to make it through each day.

Here was accomplished another masterful allegory of life through boxing. Poetry with no need of words.
August 22, 2010
pier007

Super Reviewer

a really good and gritty drama that must contain the performance of stacy keach's career. he plays a washed up fighter pushing 30 who meets young jeff bridges on his way up. and just who the hell is susan tyrell? i wanted to slap her in every scene. outstanding performance. it's a downer but a beautifully done and pretty much forgotten huston film from the 70's which was something of a comeback film for him. huston was a fighter in his younger days and so was the scriptwriter who adapted his own novel. they knew enough to get the details right. i loved the scenes where the trainers go on about the injuries they've seen.
June 22, 2009
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

My favourite John Huston film with amazing performances by Keach and Susan Tyrrell. Jeff Bridges is great as well. Depressing, but somewhat inspiring as well.
Taken from imdb:
Under the then-extant rules, Keach should have been awarded Best Actor honors from the New York Film Critics Circle for his portrayal of Tully in Fat City (1972), as it required only a plurality of the vote and Keach was the top vote-getter in the category. At the time, the NYCC was second in prestige only to the Academy Awards (and some actors and filmmakers considered it a superior honor) and was a major influence on subsequent Oscar nominations. (In the 1976 presidential election year, director Robert Altman characterized the NYFCC Awards as the 'New York primary' leading up to the Oscar 'election,' where the Golden Globes was the 'California primary.') A vocal faction of the NYFCC, dismayed by the rather low percentage of votes that would have given Keach the award, successfully demanded a rule change so that the winner would have to obtain a majority. In subsequent balloting, Keach failed to win a majority of the vote, and he lost ground to his main rival, Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972). However, Brando could not gain a majority either, and a compromise candidate, Laurence Olivier in Sleuth (1972), eventually was awarded Best Actor honors. Both Brando, who eventually won the Oscar for his come-back triumph as Don Corleone in the classic gangster picture, and Olivier were nominated for the Academy Award, but Keach was not.
January 12, 2009
cacutshaw

Super Reviewer

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