Atlantic City (1980) - Crime, Drama, Romance

Hohum Score



In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer find themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs and danger.

IMDB: 7.3
Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon
Length: 104 Minutes
PG Rating: R
Reviews: 7 out of 64 found boring (10.93%)

One-line Reviews (28)

Against a vivid backdrop of decaying splendor and shallow glamour the film gathers together several odd, unrelated characters in an unpredictable series of stories involving an aging petty gangster, an aspiring young casino croupier, two hippies on the run with a stolen roll of cocaine, and sundry other killers, dreamers, and fortune hunters.

The plot is easy to follow, very simple and very absorbing, very good written (the sequence of Dave's death is one of the most planned moments in film history with a thrilling chase through a car elevator).

Louis Malle delivers one of the most understated directorial turns working with a delightfully witty script (that has many great lines, like the one above) and a great cast (Lancaster perfect in a comeback role, Sarandon stunning in one of her early great performances).

In the mid-'70s, Malle embarked upon a decade-long visit to America where, after 'Pretty Baby,' a sensitive but finally tedious look at child prostitution in 1971 New Orleans, he makes 'Atlantic City', in which an aging small-time mobster sees his romanticized memories of villainy become reality when he acts as father confessor, protector and, finally, lover to a lonely young croupier...

Susan Sarandon as Sally kept up with the old master every step of the way, and she looked stunning.

While there are a couple of exciting action sequences (most memorable is Lancaster's killing of two hoods/drug dealers, his first 'hit' which makes him giddy with delight and finally proud of himself, after having spent his life spinning tall tales of his stature in the underworld!

"Atlantic City" is well written and skilfully balances the poignancy of its story with some moments of humour and a very unexpected ending.

When the taxpayers of New Jersey approved the legalization of gambling in 1976, they were showered with empty promises of how a vision of gleaming Atlantic City casinos would substantially subsidize the state's very inefficient and wasteful public education system.

That's about all that carries this boring film that to me is only notable for some fine filming depictions of the elegant Atlantic City.

Nonetheless, it's a worthy and fascinating little piece of work.

As a result, I did not feel for the characters, I did not get engaged by the events in the film, and I found it rather plain and dull.

wow, THAT'S entertaining.

It's just solid film-making all-around, and few people could play intense characters, young or old, as well as Lancaster.

You've got four or five ordinary people, all living drab lives, who, in their interactions ...

This one is old fashioned, slow and little convincing.

Sally Matthews (Susan Sarandon) is an ambitious young woman who left her drab life in Canada to look for something better in Atlantic City.

It's like a Robert Altman movie except that it has a fascinating narrative that draws us in.

In order to tell his very sad but compelling story, Director Louis Malle brilliantly used the backdrop of a crumbling, decadent city that had been given false hope on a massive, monumental scale.

Empty Promises .

Burt Lancaster plays Lou, a supposed gangster slowly watching his beloved Atlantic City dying a slow death as a new more modern place is on the horizon.

The greatness of a film can often be evaluated by how fascinating the secondary characters are.

This is the tale of two aging old friends and their unexpected relationship with the young generation.

Malle achieves directorial power through camera work that is near-objective and not judgmental, similar to his far-more-disturbing (but definitely worth watching) Pretty Baby.

Slow moving stories like this always have some big life meaning lurking behind it's characters, which is very true of this piece.

However it's entertaining and rewarding, thanks to the great cast, Joy, another memorable standout, Reid, the biggest, while the always ever smiling Al Waxman, was a likable card playing hood (he was the pudgy detective in Class Of 1984) and only appears briefly here in a couple of scenes.

" Near Sally's tattered domicile (Sally would use that word, rather than the mundane "apartment") Lou waits gallantly on Grace (Kate Reid), a former beauty queen and mobster's moll reduced by time and Lou's lack of discipline to a state of kitschy caterwaul.

Everyone in the picture, placed affectionately in an evocative Atlantic City devolving from tasteful faded glory to tasteless refurbished glitter, dreams of getting ahead.

I don't know if this is the masterpiece of filmmaking its biggest fans make it out to be, but as a character study of people you wouldn't want to be but who are nonetheless fascinating for the way they approach they same dreams and ambitions we all have, this is the standard bearer (along with "Local Hero", probably the only character play of the 80's better than this one).