Good Drunk/Bad Drunk

Bummer: the marvelously eccentric actress Susan Tyrrell is dead. It’s genuinely weird because just last week I started working on a post about Huston’s Fat City and her righteous performance in it, playing a woman I’ve met what seems like 50 times by now. Here’s a taste (and just bear in mind that when she tells Stacy Keach “I love you so much!” that she barely knows the man):

The better to appreciate it, here’s Ray Milland pretending to be something, but certainly not a chronic alcoholic, in The Lost Weekend, and speechifying in a tony, pseudo-literary gobbledegook that’s an embarrassment to real drunkards everywhere.

Bullshit like that is exactly why Billy Wilder puts me in a coma. Just to go out on a good note, here’s another clip from Fat City. When people say they don’t make ’em like that anymore, this is what they’re talking about.

Almost all of the movie’s great dialog and grungy atmosphere can be found in the novel by Leonard Gardner, who also wrote the screenplay. The novel too is set in Stockton’s dives, flophouses, crumbling gyms, etc. The only diff is that the book takes place in ’59, though the difference between late ’50s Stockton and 1972 Stockton probably isn’t enough to squeeze a dime out of. With its grainy decrepitude and its downwardly-mobile heroes the book kept bringing to mind Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree, at least if Suttree had been written by a normal human being.

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