6.6/10
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49 user 29 critic

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)

R | | Drama | 26 April 1973 (France)
A daydreamer convinces his radio personality brother to help fund one of his get-rich-quick schemes.

Director:

Bob Rafelson

Writers:

Jacob Brackman (screenplay), Bob Rafelson (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... David Staebler
Bruce Dern ... Jason Staebler
Ellen Burstyn ... Sally
Julia Anne Robinson ... Jessica
Scatman Crothers ... Lewis (as Benjamin 'Scatman' Crothers)
Charles LaVine ... Grandfather
Arnold Williams ... Rosko
John P. Ryan ... Surtees (as John Ryan)
Sully Boyar ... Lebowitz
Josh Mostel ... Frank
William Pabst William Pabst ... Bidlack
Garry Goodrow Garry Goodrow ... Nervous Man (as Gary Goodrow)
Imogene Bliss Imogene Bliss ... Magda
Ann Thomas Ann Thomas ... Bambi
Tom Overton 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

26 April 1973 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Philosopher King See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original script had an optimistic coda hinting that Jessica and David might wind up happily together, but Jack Nicholson couldn't get any chemistry going, and neither could Bob Rafelson. 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

[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....
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Steppin' Out With My Baby
(uncredited)
Written by Irving Berlin
Heard when Jessica dances
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Last Gasp of Hope for a Dying Nation...
23 June 2014 | by eddiez61See all my reviews

Alienation and disconnection -- the uncomfortable mood gripping the nation would soon degrade into deep malaise and acute paranoia as America was stunned and traumatized by revelations of the government's deceptions and lies about the failing war in Viet Nam and then soon enough the vaudevillian scandal of Watergate. This film strives to capture the infinitely subtle drama of when innocence isn't so much lost as it's cynically packaged and sold. Dreams may die hard, but delusions usually expire with barely an audible whimper, and there was no more epic delusion expiring at that moment in our history than the vainglorious belief in the USA's infallibility. God, himself, had ordained this vast land exceptional and anointed its multitudinous inhabitants, or so we'd been told.

Like the crumbling, decrepit, musty seaside resort town which plays host to this tragicomic farce, America was not living up to its slogan as the Shining City on the Hill. Atlantic City in the early 70's not only manifested the startling decay of so much of this nation's urban spaces, but also poignantly symbolized the inner decay of our national psyche. And while it's certainly sad and scary to witness the gruesome, slow, writhing death of the Great American Delusion, it's also somehow comforting and reassuring to know that just beneath the still warm corpse germinates tender seedlings incubating the merest wisps of hope for our nation's future. Amidst the emphatically strained and tortured metaphors which comprise this modest cinematic tragedy lurks genuineness and sincerity and psychological resonance. It's an awkward, peculiar little picture story that will haunt your psyche, if you're not already dead, or too delusional.


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