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Arts | By Andrew Nickolds | July 2017


Director John Huston, 1972, Powerhouse Films

97 minutes

Leonard Gardner’s novel was published when he was 26, before he turned it into a screenplay for John Huston’s film of the same name. It takes its title from the elation itinerant workers express after earning a few dollars picking onions and asparagus, or shaking walnuts down from trees in the farms surrounding Stockton, a dingy small town in California. The town itself, seen in an opening montage to the strains of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’, is a succession of Skid Rows, with one of the few escape routes being via the boxing ring. Billy Tully (Stacy Keach) was a promising fighter until his eyes were cut (illegally, by a razor blade concealed in the glove) during a bout in Panama. His trainer Ruben (Nicholas Colasanto) had sent him there, being too tight with money to make the trip himself. Now the wrong side...

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