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Movie Poster of the Week: John Huston’s “Fat City”

John Huston’s skid-row boxing drama in international posters.
John Huston's Fat City (1972) is playing on MUBI in the United Kingdom from July 27 - August 25, 2016.
Above: 1974 Cuban poster for Fat City (John Huston, USA, 1972) by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs.
Opening today in a new 4K restoration at New York’s Film Forum, John Huston’s boxing drama Fat City is one of the more downbeat great films of the 1970s. Shot on location—by the masterful Conrad Hall—on the skid rows of Stockton, CA, the film was hardly star-studded. Its once-celebrated director was coming off a string of flops, and the actors were by no means big draws. Huston had originally wanted Marlon Brando for the Stacy Keach role and Beau Bridges for the role that Beau ultimately recommended his more athletic younger brother for. The US one sheet consequently goes all in on the power of the title (so good they used it twice) and reduces the actors to tiny, awkwardly placed inset photos.
The illuminated sign on the poster (also prominently featured in the trailer) was actually adapted from the cover of the 1969 first edition of Leonard Gardner’s novel:
While the tie-in paperback echoes the poster:
There are a couple of terrific Italian posters for the film by Sandro Simeoni, both of which feature Keach.
And while I haven’t been able to find a single French poster for the film (it was released in France as “La dernière chance”), I was surprised to find that the film had been released in both Czechoslovakia and Poland. Perhaps Huston’s grim take on American success appealed to Communist audiences. The Czech, Polish and Cuban posters all feature very different but very striking diagrammatic takes on the film.
The Czech poster is by Antonín Sládek:
And the Polish poster is by Jan Sawka:
Fat City runs through Thanksgiving. Tonight’s show will be followed by an onstage interview with novelist and screenwriter Leonard Gardner.

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