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. Lancaster turns in the performance of his career as the ageing petty crook, running a numbers racket, indulging in nostalgic delusions about his past experiences in the Big Time with Capone et al., and finally getting a chance to discover true self-respect when he gets involved with a young hippy who's stolen a stash of coke from the mob. Between the gripping and beautifully staged action sequences, Malle contrasts the rather sad and slightly seedy lives of various loners with their romantic dreams of success, wealth and fame, while never treating his characters with condescension or contempt. Witty, warm, but never sentimental, it also benefits from being set in the fading glories of the resort town of the title: grand seaside facades behind which lie more mundane realities, surrounded by decay and demolition.
Cast and crew
Burt Lancaster Susan Sarandon Kate Reid Robert Joy Michel Piccoli Hollis McLaren