Fat City (1972): John Huston’s Tale of Losers, Starring Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, and Susan Tyrrell

Fat City, John Huston’s superlative drama, concerns the dreary life of a group of losers in Stockton, California. 

 

Grim and downbeat in tone, which may explain why it failed at the box-office, the tale centers on a trio of characters: a has-been boxer (played by Stacy Keach), a young, would-be boxer (Jeff Bridges), and an alcoholic floozy (Susan Tyrrell), all rendering excellent performances.

 

Boasting a unique, throaty voice, the eccentric actress Tyrrell began her career with Andy Warhol, and is mostly associated with offbeat indie movies, like John Waters’ “Cry-Baby” (1990), starring Johnny Depp.

 

One of Huston’s last films, Fat City is also one of his best.

 

The film world premiered at the New York Film Festival.

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Oscar Nominations

Supporting Actress: Susan Tyrrell

 

Oscar Context 

Tyrrell lost out the Supporting Actress Oscar to Eileen Heckart, who won for the comedy “Butterflies Are Free,” at her second nomination; the first, also in the supporting leaguer was for playing the troubled mother in “The Bad Seed,” in 1956

 

The three other nominees were: Jeannie Berlin in “The Heartbreak Kid,” directed by her mother Elaine May, Geraldine Page in “Pete ‘n Tillie,” and Shelley Winters in “The Poseidon Adventure,” her fourth and last Oscar nomination, having won two Supporting Actress awards before.