Fat City


Fat City

Critics Consensus

Fat City is a bleak, mordant, slice of life boxing drama that doesn't pull its punches.



Reviews Counted: 22

liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,321


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.9/5

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Movie Info

This gritty yet affectionate look at the world of small-time boxing highlights a down-and-out slugger and a young up-and-comer, both moving gracefully through a world of seedy gyms and flop houses.

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Critic Reviews for Fat City

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (10)

  • A knockout scene by that grand old battler, John Huston.

    Jan 10, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The movie's bleak, but it's funnier than most comedies, and it suggests that life's toughness doesn't preclude joyfulness.

    Nov 17, 2015 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 17, 2013 | Full Review…
  • A terse, sharp, downbeat but compassionate look at the underside of smalltown American life in the west.

    Jan 29, 2010 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top 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.

    Sep 15, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Marvellous, grimly downbeat study of desperate lives and the escape routes people construct for themselves, stunningly shot by Conrad Hall.

    Jan 26, 2006

    Tom Milne

    Time Out
    Top Critic

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.

Jonathan Hutchings
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.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

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.

Stella Dallas
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.

Christopher  Brown
Christopher Brown

Super Reviewer

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