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Atlantic City (1980)

Atlantic City, USA (original title)
In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer find themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs, and danger.




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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hollis McLaren ...
Moses Znaimer ...
Sean Sullivan ...
Waiter (as Wally Shawn)
Bus Driver
Louis Del Grande ...
Mr. Shapiro


Dreams. Becoming an Atlantic City croupier will help Sally realize her dream of going to Monte Carlo, a symbol of the glamorous life that has been evading her since escaping from Saskatchewan a decade ago. Lou dreams that he was a great mobster in the old days. Grace came to Atlantic City for a Betty Grable look-alike contest and stayed to become the wife of a mobster. A brief visit to Atlantic City by Sally's estranged husband will change the course of the lives of Sally and Lou. Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Laugh, Cry and Dream . . . [Australia Theatrical] See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

3 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Atlantic City  »

Box Office


$7,200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Uncredited first film of actor Elias Koteas who worked as an extra. See more »


The elephant-shaped building Chrissie sees in the opening sequence is Lucy the Elephant, a landmark in Margate, NJ. Margate is south of Atlantic City. The vehicle she is in is clearly traveling south, AWAY from Atlantic City. See more »


Dave: Who's the old guy?
Fred: You mean Lou? He used run numbers for the dinosaurs.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the end credits roll, an old building on the boardwalk is demolished to some of the tunes that appear earlier in the film. Each time the wrecking ball hits, we hear a cymbal crash and the soundtrack jumps to a different song. See more »


Referenced in Family Guy: Road to Rhode Island (2000) See more »


Atlantic City, My Old Friend
Music and Lyrics by Paul Anka
Special Guest Star: Robert Goulet
See more »

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User Reviews

French connection
28 January 2006 | by (Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico) – See all my reviews

The setting and the characters are just right for each other. Atlantic City is undergoing a transformation, with new casinos and hotels dotting its shoreline while a few blocks in, out of the tourists sight, the full time residents live in what's left over from the past. Louis Malle captures it all with this story about a retired small time member of the local organized crime syndicate (Burt Lancaster) who comes into a small fortune worth of stolen cocaine when the guy that stole it (Robert Joy) is killed by the dealers who meant to buy it in the first place down in Philadelphia, and are now hot on his heels as well. Back in the life, though unwittingly, he sells the coke to an ongoing poker game in one of the suites in a new hotel, bit by bit, and falls into the romance of his dreams with young Susan Sarandon, whom he watched every night from his hotel room as she bathed her breasts with lemon juice in her room across the way. Like the refurbishing city its set in, he feels rejuvenated and in one instance even fearless in the face of the ruthless Philly dealers. The film put Lancaster back in the limelight for a while, and refreshingly so. Its gritty realism and characters, especially Joy, who makes an excellent hippie con-man, marked the end of an era of that realistic 70's urban crime drama genre that deftly mixed romance with drugs and violence, and portrayed the underworld, mostly minus the cops, so well.

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