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. Bancroft's sure hand with her actors and the material is impressive. She handles both with the simplicity of a silent film; the DeLuise-Azzara courtship is like a tiny duet out of Chaplin.
The film, hastily dismissed upon release, seems downright prescient nearly 40 years later. Ahead of its time? Has its time finally come? Perhaps. Almost impossible to see, the affecting "Fatso" surfaced occasionally on HBO and, in its former incarnation, the Fox Movie Channel. But no more. And it had a brief DVD life, courtesy of Anchor Bay, in 2006. But no more.
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.
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~The poster art for "Fatso"