Find out about the film 'Atlantic City' not from 1980 and see clips of Louis Armstrong and Dorothy Dandridge performing in the 1944 film musical.
ATLANTIC CITY — Motion pictures can share the same title but offer completely different stories. A case in point is Atlantic City — two films with little in common beyond their names. The more recent Atlantic City, which came out in 1981 and was directed by Louis Malle, depicts the resort in the early years of legalized gambling. Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon lead a strong cast in this gritty drama filmed on location.
By contrast, the first Atlantic City is a musical released in 1944 that offers a highly fictionalized account of the city’s rise as a vacation and convention destination in the years during and after World War I.
“I have grand plans for this town. Atlantic City is going to be the playground of the world,” announces businessman and entertainment impresario Stanley Brown, portrayed by Brad Taylor, near the beginning of the black-and-white film. Released in the summer of 1944 as the Allied Forces advanced across Europe in the weeks after D-Day, the movie, directed by Ray McCarey, was intended as escapist entertainment for a nation fighting on multiple fronts. In his first starring role, Taylor plays a successful, and, at times, underhanded businessman. One of his schemes is a phony plan to build livery stables on the Boardwalk to entice other businessmen to sell their property at a cheaper price.
Ultimately, Brown transforms his father’s rooming house and bar into the upscale Sycamore Hotel. That leads to the construction of entertainment venues, including the Apollo Theater, and later the successful launching of the Miss America Pageant. His success in business comes at a price, as he alienates his friends and his singer/wife, Marilyn, portrayed by Constance Moore, leaves him.
“You can’t go through life stepping on other people,” warns his father, Jake, portrayed by veteran character actor Charley Grapewin. Brown hits rock bottom when one of his entertainment piers goes up in flames and he has no insurance. Brown’s fortunes are reversed when his father, who has provided lodging to many vaudeville entertainers, recruits them for a benefit show to bail out his son. Brown’s wife also agrees to perform.
The younger Brown sees the error of his ways and what really matters in life and reunites with his wife in a typical Hollywood ending. In retrospect, the highlights of Atlantic City are the more than dozen musical performances sprinkled throughout the 87-minute film by some of the top entertainers of the 1940s, including the orchestras of Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman. Dorothy Dandridge and Armstrong team up on “Rhythm for Sale” as part of a “Harlem on Parade” revue.
From Pop Lloyd to Pattie Harris to Nucky Johnson and the Northside, not to mention Nina Simone and Sam Cooke and other entertainers' connections to Atlantic City and region.
Movies can offer a window on the past, a look at the way we were. That’s the case of The Money, later renamed Atlantic City Jackpot, a 1976 independent film partially shot in the city and Atlantic County four years before the first casino opened.
As a movie junkie, I enjoy giving and receiving movie gifts at the holidays so I’m always on the lookout for movies that are either finally being released on DVD format, or classics that are available in Blu-ray for the first time. Here are some titles and collections that have caught my attention as excellent movie gifts.
Three Little Girls in Blue (1946) was partially filmed in Atlantic City and featured the song “On the Boardwalk (in Atlantic City).” The 1944 movie Atlantic City is a musical about how it became a famous resort, and in Citizen Kane (1941), there is a flashback set in Atlantic City.
The truth is, our region has been a live-music mecca since the early 1900s, when cats like Eubie Blake and Eddie Cantor hung out for summers and performed at local clubs. Decades later the Atlantic City jazz scene was as hot as they come, with internationally heralded performers from Billy Eckstine and Louis Armstrong playing residencies at some of the hottest clubs on the East Coast, namely the venues on Atlantic City’s fabled Kentucky Avenue — all of them are gone now — including the Club Harlem.
With Sunday’s debut of Boardwalk Empire fast approaching, let’s look back on the period during which the series takes place, specifically the year 1920, the dawn of the Prohibition era.
Relatively few stand-up comedians have attempted "the concert film." Richard Pryor was the only comic (in my opinion) to master that art form. The art of stand-up comedy before a live audience dwells...
Tis the season for giving again and with that in mind here is my second annual Christmas wish list. If I can't have peace on earth, then I'll just have to live with these. 1. The Wire: Seasons 1,2...
Way back in prehistory (OK, it was 1982) rock singer Linda Ronstadt astounded the music world and her fans by recording What's New, an album of standards with arranger Nelson Riddle, onetime musical ...
� Dancing Master�Made His Mark in AC � It was a turkey farm when a middle-aged dancer with an artificial leg purchased these seven acres in the Catskill Mountains in 1952. Brawny and gruffly sweet, his talent exceeded only by his will, there was nothing artificial about this man who was ahead of his time much the same way he always anticipated the beat. To the disappointment of its owner, the Peg Leg Bates Country Club failed to integrate the Borscht Belt, but it did provide a final showcase for an entertainment legend and his stories. And man, did he have stories to tell. Like the time he danced all day for the wounded soldiers at Atlantic City's Thomas England General Hospital, Haddon Hall's alter ego during the World War II years. He was in town for a gig at the Paradise Club when Army officials asked if he could give the guys a few minutes. He gave them five hours, dancing in every ward to the keyboard accompaniment of a man named Count Basie. The dancer had at least one crucial thing in common with his audience - some of the vets likewise were missing limbs. Like the times he danced at...
Atlantic City has been the main setting — or shown up at some point — in numerous movies over the years. Three Little Girls in Blue, starring June Haver and George Montgomery, was partially filmed in Atlantic City and featured the song “On the Boardwalk (in Atlantic City).” The 1944 movie Atlantic City is a musical about how it became a famous resort, and in Citizen Kane, the motion picture that has most often been called the greatest film ever made, there is a flashback set in Atlantic City. With this special issue being devoted to the 35th anniversary of Atlantic City...