Topographies of Defeat

  • Asbjørn Grønstad


TOPOGRAPHIES OF DEFEAT: MASCULINITY AND DESOLATION IN FAT CITY AND JUNIOR BONNER         Success stories, per se, are not really of much interest to me       (John Huston) In  1972,  two of Hollywood's most independent filmmakers -- John Huston and Sam Peckinpah -- directed two pensive, deceptively inconspicuous movies which probed the existential malaise afflicting a particular form of American masculinity. Fat City(1) -- Huston's first American film in more than a decade -- was released to much critical acclaim, and reviewers came to rank it alongside his best previous efforts like The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and The African Queen (1951).(2) Commercially, however, it was a modest failure.(3) With Junior Bonner, Peckinpah thoroughly defied the anticipations of critics and spectators who expected (and craved?) another cinematic blood orgy like the one in The...