“Help Me Make It Through the Night”: John Huston’s Late Masterpiece Fat City Returns to the Ring in 35mm – Feb. 7

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, February 7 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by John Huston • 1972
You can expect a film that opens and closes with Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” to leave some bruises behind after the credits scroll, and Fat City does not disappoint. Two fighters meet and spar in a YMCA, one fresh-faced and climbing, one boozed-up and falling fast. There’s only a 12-year age difference between tenderfoot Ernie Munger (a coltish Jeff Bridges) and the washed-up Billy Tully (played by Stacy Keach), but in this town that’s all that lies between the promise of youth and a lifetime of failure. The fight scenes are pathetic, scrambling affairs and pale in comparison to bouts between lovers Billy and Oma (played by Susan Tyrrell in one of the most viciously accurate portrayals of an onscreen drunk). Shot by the great Conrad Hall (In Cold Blood, Cool Hand Luke) and penned by ex-fighter Leonard Gardner (adapted from his own novel), it’s a deeply loving portrait of the occupants of Stockton, California’s skid row, most of which was bulldozed immediately after the production to make way for a freeway. Fat City’s existential blows are softened by how real it is: a tender hug between fighters after a brutal bout, the casual adjustment of a fallen zipper on a woman’s dress, a confession of love between daytime drunks. As critic Vincent Canby wrote, “This is grim material but Fat City is too full of life to be as truly dire as it sounds.” (RL)
96 min • Columbia • 35mm from Sony Pictures Repertory
Short: “Dick the Bruiser vs. Chest Bernard” (Russ Davis, 1955)  – 16mm – 13 min – Courtesy of Chicago Film Archives



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