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USA 1980
Directed by
Louis Malle
100 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Atlantic City

Like Schlesinger's New York in Midnight Cowboy (1968), or Polanski's Los Angeles in Chinatown (1974) Louis Malle's Atlantic City is very much a metonym for the central theme of his film which is about faded glory and changing times.

Burt Lancaster plays an elderly one-time mob lackey now a penny-ante hustler who dreams of Prohibition days when Atlantic City was alive with ""flou flou""and, at least in his imagination, he was a player in it. Via his attractive young next-door neighbour (Susan Sarandon) he gets involved with the Philly mob and due to a twist of fate finally gets the opportunity to play the kind of big shot hoodlum that hitherto had only been his idle fantasy.

With a richly textured script by John Guare and strong performances by Lancaster and Sarandon, not to mention the rest of the cast and the adept use of music, Atlantic City has a sense of dignified bitter-sweet charm that makes for rewarding viewing and earned the film a raft of well-deserved awards including the Golden Lion at Venice and a BAFTA for Malle's direction which gives what is a typically American story a very European treatment.




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