Come to the HFA tonight to hear novelist Leonard Gardner talk about John Huston’s acclaimed adaptation of FAT CITY, Gardner’s much-admired account of small-time boxers in 1950s Stockton, CA. As long as you’re there, why not watch the film as well? Generally considered one of the very best of Huston’s later films, FAT CITY is a blearily downbeat film about struggling fighters, but it’s also about struggling drinkers, worn-down workers and listless lovers. It’s a compassionate film about people trying to come to terms with emptiness, and thrashing around a lot while they do so.
“Before you can get rollin’, your life makes a beeline for the drain.” Such are the weary words of wisdom imparted by aged-before-his-time boxer Tully (Stacy Keach) — once almost a contender (at least in his own mind) — to Ernie (Jeff Bridges), a tender young upstart whose precocity consists of the speed with which he’s become a has-been. Tully’s gloomy pronouncement is delivered in one of your all-time greasiest spoons, a dive populated by down-and-outs of every race, color and creed — a veritable democracy of broken dreams, all decked out in a now classically kitchen-sink, 1970s, grimy-baroque style. In both essence and ornament, FAT CITY is spiritual kin to ’70s Cassavetes, to the Scorsese of ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, and to Wim Wenders’ THE GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK, in which pervasive alienation and enervation undermine the ostensibly character-building, health-giving prerogatives of sport. Its uneasy pieces belong to a briefly ascendant cinema of disillusionment that spoke vividly to its deflated time, and, if anything, speaks still more vividly to our own.
3/31 – 7pm
$12 Special Event Tickets
Harvard Film Archive
24 Quincy St.