The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)

R  |   |  Drama  |  12 October 1972 (USA)
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'It's Monopoly out there'. Jason Staebler, The King of Marvin Gardens, has gone directly to jail, lives on the Boardwalk and fronts for the local mob in Atlantic City. He is also a dreamer ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Julia Anne Robinson ...
Lewis (as Benjamin 'Scatman' Crothers)
Charles LaVine ...
Arnold Williams ...
Surtees (as John Ryan)
Sully Boyar ...
William Pabst ...
Garry Goodrow ...
Nervous Man (as Gary Goodrow)
Imogene Bliss ...
Ann Thomas ...
Tom Overton ...
Spot Operator


'It's Monopoly out there'. Jason Staebler, The King of Marvin Gardens, has gone directly to jail, lives on the Boardwalk and fronts for the local mob in Atlantic City. He is also a dreamer who asks his brother, David, a radio personality from Philadelphia to help him build a paradise on a Pacific Island - asking him to believe in yet another of his dreams, yet another of his get-rich-quick schemes. But luck is against them both and the game ends badly - real life reduced to radio drama. Written by Dave Cook <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 October 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Philosopher King  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The properties in the game Monopoly are named after streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but one of them was misspelled. The street is actually Marven Gardens. See more »


David listens to tape recording he made but during close-up of tape recorder, none of the buttons that would allow it to play are depressed. See more »


[first lines]
David Staebler: I promised that I would tell you... why I never eat fish. When we all moved into my grandfather's house... it somehow fell to me to keep the old man's mind off of things. We would play casino over an old card table. He never let me win. One time he put one of those tiny model trains... into my hamburger. He was a practical joker. I broke my tooth on it. On Friday evenings we had fish at our house. Every Friday. Not on religious grounds, but because... Grandpa was a fish enthusiast....
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Crazy Credits

The Columbia Pictures logo does not appear on this film. See more »


Featured in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) See more »


I Could Have Danced All Night
Music by Frederick Loewe
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User Reviews

Dark, hidden, dirty gem of a film
17 February 2010 | by (pacific northwest) – See all my reviews

It's ironically indicative of this movie's theme and the relationship between American culture AND this film that the vast majority of IMDb raters have given this a 6 or 7 (out of 10). Most Americans that actually watch this film will be confused by it. Very strange, maybe, in that it is a truly American movie: American cast, American production, American themes, American sets, American problems, American answers. But, tell me--how do you rate yourself when you look back at that nude in the full length mirror right after you get out of the shower? If you're feeling generous (and you're only rating for yourself), you might get a 6 or a 7, right? Rafelson's early (funnier...haha, couldn't resist that), more critically successful Nicholson vehicle, FIVE EASY PIECES, has some really GREAT moments (like the toast-ordering scene), but ultimately, the pacing is off. There's just not enough there, there. Not so with King of MV. WOW, this is one helluva emotional roller coaster. The much, much underrated and underutilized Bruce Dern gives one of his best two or three performances as Nicholson's manic (American through and through) salesman brother. This riffs on Arthur Miller and all the best dramatic pitchmen roles from the 1st half of the 20th Century. Ellen Burstyn is spot on, as is the other female interest. But the real focus is on the guys. (And just a word about the late, great Scatman Crothers--so so excellent and iconic in this.) And now we get to Jack... ...I think this is arguably his best performance. It is one of the very very few where his eyebrows were nailed down, anyway. His character is so weary, so defeated, so human, you're tempted to think he's a Russian or a Jew or maybe even a Russian Jew. But no, he is a through and through Willie Loman American. And one we so rarely see on the stage or screen--though we all know/have known them. They are that vast minority of reasonable, intelligent, sensitive, fairly strong and honest and wise individuals who just can't take it or who just don't think it's worth the trouble having seen too many people taken advantage of or getting their teeth knocked out. They are sick of what they've seen; they are sick of not being able to toe the mark--even though they know that those expectations are unreasonable. Rare stuff, indeed.

BTW, this is NOT a happy movie--fair warning.

Bless you, Bob Rafelson--a brilliant, brilliant film that should rest on the shelf next to Renoir and the very best of the 50's British Angry Young Men cinema.

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