The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 18-24

Jeff Bridges in John Huston’s FAT CITY (1972). Courtesy Film Forum via Photofest. Playing November 20 - 26.

Fat City (1972)
Directed by John Huston
The Hustler is not really about pool, and great boxing movies—Raging Bull, Champion, The Set-Up—aren’t really about pugilism. Like much of his work, Huston’s late classic Fat City, set in a Stockton, California, befogged in the barren karma of the early 1970s, concerns the morbid silliness of dreams. Stacy Keach’s Tully, a soddenly weary palooka-cum-itinerant farmhand, and Jeff Bridges’ Ernie, a young chancer willing to take a beating, can work a speed bag, a heavy bag, and a ring, but not much else. Early on, Ernie is painfully naive, and still sees blue skies. Tully is incongruously gentle towards his drunken girlfriend Oma—Susan Tyrell, lacerating, in an Oscar-nominated performance—but not quite ready to ditch his vision of a good fighting life. By the end of this delicately noir film, both men come around to cold truth. “Just when you get rolling, your life makes a beeline for the drain,” says Tully. Their trainers and their women flatter to deceive, and their delusions—the what-ifs and the if-onlys—chain them to squalid decline. They are the stuff that dreams are made of. Jonathan Stevenson (November 20-26 at Film Forum; showtimes daily)

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