Tuesday, July 06, 2010
cinema obscura: Anne Bancroft's "Fatso" (1980)
Films fail for a variety of reasons, the most recurring one being neglect - by the studio that produced it, the critics who review it and a public that just doesn't care. Neglected films are what drives this site.
Case in point: Anne Bancroft's soulful "Fatso," her only directorial/writing credit. Released (half-heartedly) by 20th Century-Fox in 1980, the small, very small, taciturn film offered Dom DeLuise one of his few noteworthy film roles ("The End" is another) as Dominick DiNapoli, an unassuming guy with a weight problem and, by extention, body-image issues. Two women come to his rescue - his sister, Antoinette (played by Bancroft herself), who tries to nudge him towards a healthier diet and lifestyle, and Lydia (the singular Candice Azzara), a neighborhood woman who is just the distraction that Dom needs.
The film, hastily dismissed upon release, seems downright prescient 30 years later. Ahead of its time? Has its time finally come? Perhaps. I do know that Bancroft's sure hand with her actors and the material is impressive. She handles both with the simplicity of a silent film; the courtship shared by DeLuise and Azzara is like a tiny duet out of Chaplin.
Almost impossible to see, the affecting "Fatso" has suddenly surfaced on HBO, where it plays throughout July, with performances scheduled for July 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 20 and 25. Check for exact times in your area and be sure to catch it. You'll be both surprised and pleased. I promise.
Note in Passing: Dom DeLuise directed his own film, for producer Ray Stark, a year earlier - "Hot Stuff," in which he co-starred with Jerry Reed, Suzanne Pleshette and Ossie Davis. Also lost and also appealing.
Posted by joe baltake at 10:37 AM