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Atlantic City (1980)



Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 4,929

My Rating

Movie Info

Burt Lancaster stars as Lou, an aging mob flunkey, barely making a living in Atlantic City. Susan Sarandon plays Sally, a casino croupier whose husband Dave (Robert Joy) steals a large supply of drugs from the mob. When he is killed, the narcotics pass to the unwilling Sally. Lou, in the midst of longtime affair with middle-aged gangster's widow Grace (Kate Reid), falls for the much younger Sally, becoming her savior by killing the mob thugs sent to shut her up. The killings serve a therapeutic


Drama, Romance, Art House & International

John Guare

May 14, 2002

Paramount Home Video

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All Critics (30) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (0) | DVD (9)

[Sarandon is] shirtless before she even has a name, but her desire to be ogled is granted dignity and power; gradually and unassumingly, she upstages a terrific Burt Lancaster.

October 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A shimmering success.

October 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Atlantic City" is a sophisticated fairy tale, beautifully acted and beautiful to behold; it is as funny as it is touching.

October 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Film is blessed with a spare, intriguing script by Yank John Guare, which always skirts impending cliches and predictability by finding unusual facets in his characters and their actions.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Eclectic, pacy and hard to categorise, it's part crime thriller, part love story, part fairytale, and part a gentle, generous examination of certain dying aspects of American culture.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What makes "Atlantic City" sweet -- and that's the word for it -- is the gentleness with which Lou handles his last chance at amounting to something, and the wisdom with which Sally handles Lou.

January 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Malle pulls off a minor coup here, celebrating his wounded characters even as he mercilessly reveals their dreams for the hopeless illusions they really are.

October 7, 2012 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

For all the flaws in the plot, the triumvurate of Malle, Lancaster and Sarandon give this moody little thriller a seductive, lingering power.

October 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4

A well observed and deeply tender tale.

October 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

This lyrical tale set in Atlantic City in times of change is full of offbeat characters. It is evocatively directed by Louis Malle in his second (and better) American film and well acted by Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon as the odd romantic couple.

January 31, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Intriguing from beginning to end.

September 28, 2005
Juicy Cerebellum

If you don't already love Sarandon, this is the feature that would do it. Director and the 2 stars mesh their talents beautifully.

January 30, 2005

Poignant, atmospheric mood piece with pristine performances by Lancaster and Sarandon.

December 13, 2004
Nick's Flick Picks

Pleasingly unsentimental.

November 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Malle conjures a pair of cities, that of the present day and another fading beneath it. It's magically evocative and surprisingly funny, too. Lancaster is marvelous.

June 7, 2004

Susan Sarandon finally came into her own as a first-rate actress in this poignant 1981 Louis Malle film. She and Burt Lancaster create movie magic together. Well-deserved Oscar nominations (her first, his last) resulted from their outstanding work here.

March 19, 2003 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

The performances from Lancaster and Sarandon highlight this effortlessly excellent film.

July 25, 2002

Lancaster brings to the role a great, endearing physicality, a sense of presence that is convincing in its character-created self-delusion.

June 13, 2002
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for Atlantic City

Cool little gangster film starring the always entertaining, legendary Burt Lancaster. What I liked most about the movie was the connection between Lancaster's character and the city itself (run down, out with the old and in with the new). Susan Sarandon also does a great job in the film (she was so beautiful back then, but her acting style has not changed one bit over the years....not that it needed to). Louis Malle does a nice job with what could have been a run of the mill gangster story, keeping it light and with some nice touches here and there. Good choice for anyone looking to enjoy some Lancaster.
July 1, 2009

Super Reviewer

Teach me stuff. Maybe my favorite Burt Lancaster movie -- when it's the most recent one I've seen : ) I can never decide. So many good choices. The way he celebrates the killings is a great sequence. This is also, if not THE best, one of the top Sarandon performances. And HEY! Don't touch the suit : )
January 23, 2007

Super Reviewer

Those in Toronto will know it as the film where City TV former head Moses Zanimer has a cameo as a hood. You expect more from a lineup that includes Lancaster and Sarandon but it doesn't quite do it. I think this is Lancaster's last major film. What a shame.
August 12, 2007
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Atlantic City is the story of Lou (Burt Lancaster) who has passed his prime as the top dog of Atlantic City. We soon find out he has become a wanna be, and he'll do anything to look like the tough guy he once was. The film is slow, but in this case I found that to be a plus. In the whole film there is only one extended action scene, so overall this flowed slowly. The cinematographer Ciupka reminded me of the work of Russel Metty who worked with Welles in Touch of Evil. What you can see in the background, is just as important as what the camera is centered on. Also I thought it was funny that Wallace Shawn had a small role as a waiter in this film, when the next year he'd be playing a diner in Louis Malle's next feature. The problem I had with this was a lack of emotional attachment, I appreciate what Louis Malle did in creating a colorful film, much more than I appreciate the story and characters.
May 19, 2013
Daniel Dolgin

Super Reviewer

    1. Lou: Put your makeup on, put your hair up pretty, and I'll meet you tonight in Atlantic City.
    2. Jeanne: Yes.
    – Submitted by Aram F (2 years ago)
    1. Lou: Yes, it used to be beautiful -- what with the rackets, whoring, guns.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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