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The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)

R  |   |  Drama  |  12 October 1972 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 3,308 users  
Reviews: 41 user | 33 critic

'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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(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Cast

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

'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 <cookd@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 October 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Philosopher King  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the meeting with the Japanese businessmen, David Staebler (Nicholson) refers to an experiment where a woman cohabitated with a dolphin in isolation for a couple of months. This is perhaps a reference to the 1965 Dolphin Point Laboratory experiment run by Dr. John C Lilly on St. Thomas Island. The name of the woman who volunteered to participate in the experiment is Margaret Howe and she was 23 years-old at the time of the experiment. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Jessica: What's going on?
David Staebler: Your mother's gonna murder one of us. So far the only one she hasn't nominated is you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in People I Know (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

I Could Have Danced All Night
(uncredited)
Music by Frederick Loewe
See more »

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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.


14 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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