With 'Moneyball' and 'Warrior' in theaters, we survey the genre
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6. "Fat City" (John Huston, 1972)
America has produced enough great boxing films to form a robustly freestanding genre, but few are greater (and none more inexplicably overlooked with the passage of time) than John Huston’s noir-hued character study of two boxers – Stacy Keach’s past-prime chancer and Jeff Bridges’s promising teenage buck – warily passing each other on the career ladder in some nondescript portion of Skid Row. Not just about boxing, but the self-consuming society of spectators and hangers-on it cultivates (Susan Tyrell scored the film’s lone Oscar nod for her performance as the hopeless barfly sporadically welded to Keach’s shoulder), and shot in rich half-light by Conrad Hall as though treating the characters’ entire world as a boxing ring, this is Huston’s greatest late-career moment.