Review: Atlantic City

Atlantic City is a film from 1980 starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon, both nominated for Academy Awards, the film was nominated for 5 total including Best Picture and Best Writing and Best Director for Louis Malle.

This story starts out with Sarandon making lemons sexy, Lancaster looks in on her through their opposing windows.

We then see a man watching a phone booth, he takes a package of drugs from the booth before the rightful owners can grab it.  This man is played by Robert Joy and is Sarandon’s estranged husband who has run off with Sarandon’s sister, who he has gotten pregnant.  Joy soon recruits Lancaster to help him sell the drugs and our odd love triangle, more like a love square? begins.  We also have the original owner of the drugs looking for their goods and those who have them.  Lancaster’s character is the most interesting of the film.  He starts out as a broken old man who runs numbers for one of the local mobsters.  He ends the film in a flash of old glory and you are happy for him, even as you see he is losing it mentally.

Another factor of this film is the city itself plays in this film.  This caught a time in Atlantic City, where the city was in disrepair, a shadow of its former glory.  Soon after this film, more old casinos would be demolished to make room for new casinos.  In many ways the city parallels Lancaster’s character.

Lancaster is one of my all time favorite actors and this film did not disappoint.   Sarandon was very good in this as well as maybe not a femme fatale in the classic noir sense, but she was definitely Lancaster’s femme fatale in this film.  This is a very good film for neo noir fans and if you are fans of the two main stars it is a must see.

Favorite Tidbit:  Lancaster mentions a number of mobsters and historic people his character supposedly knew in his past.  These included Dutch Schultz, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel and Al Capone.  He also mentions Nucky Johnson the inspiration for the Nucky Thompson character in Boardwalk Empire.

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Review of Sweet Smell of Success

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I finally got a chance to see this classic film-noir and the wait was worth it.  This is a very cool movie that has all the things that make a film-noir so amazing.  I have to say this has some of the best dialog of any movie ever.

“If you’re funny, Walter, I’m a pretzel! Drop dead!”

“Don’t remove the gangplank, Sidney – you may wanna get back onboard.”

“That’s fish four days old. I won’t buy it!”

and of course the most famous line:

“I’d hate to take a bite outta you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic.”

There is many more great lines in this movie, I could list another 100 and not cover them all.  I can see why this made a few Empire Magazine top 100 lists.  The reason I was so excited to see this film was Burt Lancaster, he is one of my favorite actors and his performance was great as the evil J.J., but Tony Curtis really surprised me and took over this film.

This movie had a lot of controversy when it came out.  It was based on Walter Winchell, a famous columnist in New York City with lots of pull.  Though this film changes Winchell’s daughter for J.J.’s sister, the story is based on some true events.  Winchell was still a powerful man in media when this was made, making it a risk to make.  Burt Lancaster produced this himself to get it made.  This was also Curtis’s first real acting challenge and showed his talent(before this he was thought of more as a pretty face and not a serious actor).  This also was a different role for Lancaster where he was essentially a bad guy, this went against his normal hero role in the film.  It ended up helping his career as well because it showed he had more sides to his acting talents then people thought.  Thank you Turner Classic Movies for still showing these great movies, most of these are not at our local DVD store.  If you haven’t seen this one put it on your Netflix Queue you will not be disappointed.