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.