Written by / 6/18/2012 / No comments /

SUSAN TYRRELL AS OMA IN FAT CITY

John Huston's FAT CITY centers on the lives of small-town boxers in Texas, and Stacy Keach as Tully is trying to cut the drinking habit and get back into the ring. He gets a job picking fruit, befriends a young hopeful Jeff Bridges, and things seem to be going alright until he enters a tavern for a drink or two, and mostly thanks to Susan Tyrrell, he sidesteps his comeback and becomes a full blown barfly.

But he's nothing compared to Tyrrell's Oma who, sitting at the end of the counter with her soft-spoken black boyfriend, shouts at all the barflies and is downright frightening. Years ago, during my inexperienced youth... before knowing women like this actually existed in every corner dive in America... I had thought her performance a bit way over-the-top. The more I rewatch the more I realize how important her screeching drunken lush is, and how she brings the film to a level of cosmic awesomeness: doing what no other actress can pull off.

Lending a completely satisfied lush-till-the-end persona to an ultra realistic nerve-wrenching level, Susan allows Keach to climb his way out of the bottle... It would take a very special person to show the light to a man who can drink anyone under the table, that is, he'd have to meet his match and that's where no other actress, without Susan's masculine strength and steely determination, could do.

In other words, being a film about boxing the real challenge for the main character is out of the ring, into the barroom, and back out again. Whether Oma's character, for Keach, represents the end of a road or the beginning of a new one... He realizes it's a path he couldn't muster, no matter how tough and experienced he may be.
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