Fat City

Fat City ★★★★

We had a copy of Leonard Gardner's 1969 novel (his only one to date) on hand for last night's Nous Allons au Cinema screening, our first since QUICK CHANGE in May. Thumbing through it afterwards it's remarkable how much John Huston, a master of adaptation, got out of it; Gardner wrote the film, but it's not just dialogue, it's textures, atmospheres, lighting (Conrad Hall finds the exact right amount of shabby Stockton beauty in every scene; the night scenes are noir without noir content). And the leads are perfect--the underrated Stacy Keach, convincingly punchdrunk, the young and guileless Jeff Bridges, and Oscar nominee Susan Tyrrell, an indelible performance (Huston wanted her to tone down her barfly, but she was right to amp it up; once seen, never forgotten, as with so much of her work in movies that can't keep up with her).