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Atlantic City [1981] [DVD]

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

1 new from £24.99 7 used from £5.98 1 collectible from £14.02

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Product details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon, Kate Reid, Michel Piccoli, Robert Goulet
  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Arrow
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Jun. 2001
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LW42
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,629 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Louis Malle's tale of dreamers and low-lifes stars Susan Sarandon as Sally, a croupier whose good-for-nothing ex-husband (Robert Joy) gets into trouble with the mob over the theft of some cocaine. The mob kill the ex-husband but they fail to lay their hand on the drugs, which have been left with Sally's neighbour Lou (Burt Lancaster), a small-time criminal who has fantasies of being an old-time gangster. Sally and Lou recognise that this is their big chance to make their dreams come true and decide to sell the cocaine themselves.


French New Wave director Louis Malle made two pieces of memorable Americana in mid-career, Atlantic City (1980) and Pretty Baby (1978). Atlantic City stars Burt Lancaster in one of his greatest screen performances: as an ageing crook now working the numbers racket from a seedy apartment in the casino town of Atlantic City. Susan Sarandon is a waitress whose brother is on the run from the mob, having stolen a cache of drugs. She and Lancaster form an odd but engaging couple and hatch a plot to beat the odds stacked against them. Atmospheric, bittersweet, with lots of character and some neat action: it all adds up to a pretty classy offering.

On the DVD: Unfortunately, the picture and sound quality on the DVD are only average. The image is 14:9 ratio and has been taken from a print of variable quality in which some reels are barely adequate. There are no additional features. --Ed Buscombe

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
ATLANTIC CITY is a superb character study of a city in transition and small-time characters who live hoping to give life to their big-time dreams. The film features a smashing performance by Burt Lancaster. French director Louis Malle, presents a tightly shot film with little wasted footage, but his nostalgia for America's seamy side of history is often far-fetched, with a foreign perspective that distorts rather than clarifies. John Guare's script is taut, sparkling with original dialogue and far superior to TAKING OFF (1971), which Guare wrote for Miloš Forman another foreigner, who made it big in the staes- AMADEUS and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.
Aside from Lancaster's absolutely engrossing performance, the film leaves a sad impression of emptiness, similar to the vacant lots in Atlantic City where splendid hotels once stood. Lancaster somehow represents the new plastic casinos that have risen in their place, shining expensive towers without personal history, without grandeur. That is the taste left behind; one of empty waste and fragile lives. That is not to say the film is essentially cold and unforgiving, as the final scene with Lancaster and Sarandon together shows- he letting his young lover go to a life with more chance for at least some kind of fulfillment.
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Format: DVD
This is a film that crosses the genres; a combination of crime thriller, love story and meditation on change, progress and decay. It's a subtle interweaving of a place (Atlantic City, New Jersey) with a small number of characters who inhabit it.

Louis Malle (Lacombe Lucien, Au Revoir les Enfants, Pretty Baby etc) in his second American film takes the decaying coastal resort as his subject rather than just his backdrop, in that the demolition and renewal (shown evocatively on screen) of the fabric of the town as the developers move in mirrors and also contrasts with what is going on in the life of a number of its inhabitants.

These are an ex-small time leg-man for racketeers (Burt Lancaster), a restaurant worker cum casino croupier trainee (Susan Sarandon), a gangster's widow and a hopeless cocaine pusher. They have in common that none of them are living fully in the present. The pusher has a vague plan that selling the cocaine he's come upon by accident will change his life. Sarandon imagines that the doors at the casino at Monte Carlo will be thrown open to her. The widow has an exaggerated notion of importance harking back to her dead hoodlum husband's supposed status. Lancaster looks back on a life of failure that he dresses up as success. We feel he's a good man inhabiting the skin of a bad man, and his relationship with Sarandon demonstrates this ambivalence - part paternal, part sexual. Burt Lancaster portrays this mixture wonderfully well; I felt that beneath the charming surface there lurked something menacing or perhaps just damaged. He knows that in film acting less = more; his great screen presence keeps your eye and your mind on him throughout.
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Format: DVD
For whatever reasons, this film never has received the recognition and appreciation I think it deserves. It was directed by Louis Malle and stars Burt Lancaster as Lou. (In Atlantic City, first names are all you need to know about those around you.) Malle carefully develops three different story lines: Lou's long-term affair with Grace (Kate Reid), a mobster's widow; Lou's relationship with Sally (Susan Sarandon) to whom he feels both a paternal and romantic attraction; and his symbiotic relationship with Atlantic City. Both he and the city seem long past their prime. During the course of the film, Sally also becomes a widow. Credit Malle and his excellent cast as well as cinematographer Richard Ciupka for creating and then sustaining an atmosphere of deterioration and menace. Special note should also be made of John Guare's screenplay. He, Malle, Lancaster, Sarandon, and the film were all nominated for an Academy Award. (FYI, The respective winners in 1980 were Bo Goldman for Melvin and Howard, Robert Redford for Ordinary People, Robert De Niro for Raging Bull, Sissy Spacek for Coal Miner's Daughter, and Ordinary People.) Toward the end of his career, Lancaster accepted a series of roles (including this one) which enabled him to explore and reveal subtle nuances of character and personality which much earlier roles neither permitted nor required. My own opinion is that his performance as Lou is his greatest achievement as an actor.

However, in certain respects, Atlantic City itself really is the dominant character. I recall brief visits to it in the 1970s. The city then bore little resemblance to what it has since become, at least in the casino area. Of course the city then bore little resemblance, also, to the elegant seaside resort it once was 75 years earlier.
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By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 10 May 2014
Format: DVD
Right from the opening shots of Susan Sarandon washing herself with lemon juice and water - it starts with a close-up of her slicing the lemons - you know that this is going to be an exceptional film that never falls back on clichés or easy story-telling. As always with Malle, you gradually piece together the picture of the main characters through their actions and a sense of place that seems an essential part of it. Atlantic City is a gambling centre on the coast that has clearly seen better days, but there is poignant life in Burt Lancaster's character who may have been more of a player in its heyday, yet still has the urge to live and flourish in the present in spite of his diminishing faculties. His interaction with the lovely Sarandon as a character whose dreams are more forward-looking is beautifully shown, using all the ambiguity that was the director's trademark. Sarandon's eyes have never been used to more expressive effect, bringing grace to a role that, thanks to her and Malle, could never be pedestrian, yet would be in lesser hands. Her husband is an innocent abroad, trying to make his way in drug-dealing, having run off with Sarandon's sister, and then turned up on her doorstep with the sister naively hippy-ish and heavily pregnant.

The boy doesn't seem to have much going for him and is all too convincing right down to his sexy, chino-covered butt, the one thing neither he nor anyone else in the film is probably even aware of, not that the importance of sex is downplayed. It is refreshing the way Malle roots his observations in an understanding of desire, both sexual and otherwise, and how it should not be trampled on ...
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