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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

Filmed in the once popular Marlborough-Blenhim hotel, yet by 1972 the hotel had fallen on hard times like most of Atlantic City. The hotel continued operating until 1978 when it was bought by Park Place Entertainment. Despite protests, the hotel was demolished in 1979, and replaced with Bally's Park Place Casino. 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....
[...]
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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 most underrated movie of the 1970s?
30 April 2003 | by InfofreakSee all my reviews

Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson's creative relationship began because of The Monkees. Rafelson directing and Nicholson writing their weird and wonderful psychedelic cult classic 'Head'. After that the two teamed up for one of the early Seventies best loved movies 'Five Easy Pieces'. A couple of years later they did it again with 'The King Of Marvin Gardens', though inexplicably it doesn't have the reputation or the high profile of their previous collaboration. I really fail to see why. File it under "great lost 1970s movies" alongside 'Scarecrow', 'Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia', 'Tracks', 'Fingers' (and add your own personal favourite to the list). Marvin Gardens features a really strong and controlled performance from Nicholson in the lead role, an introverted DJ with a show in which he spins "true" tales. But even better than Nicholson is Bruce Dern, a wonderful actor who never became a superstar like Nicholson, Pacino or De Niro, despite a long career of consistently good character roles in movies by Hitchcock, Roger Corman, Walter Hill, Hal Ashby, John Frankenheimer, Elia Kazan, Sydney Pollack and many others. Dern is absolutely wonderful as Nicholson's brother, a dreamer and Mob hanger on. He comes back into his brother's life with a nutty get rich quick scheme which ends up going horribly wrong. This is one of the very best performances by Dern I've ever seen, and his scenes with Nicholson make this essential viewing for any 1970s buff. Added to that are excellent performances from Ellen Burstyn ('The Exorcist', 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore') and newcomer Julia Anne Robinson (her only movie role - too bad!) as the women in Dern's life, and nice bits from legendary musician/actor Scatman Crothers ('Black Belt Jones' and appearances in no less than four 1970s Nicholson movies) and the underrated John P. Ryan ('Runaway Train', 'It's Alive', 'Class Of 1999'). 'The King Of Marvin Gardens' is a slow and thoughtful movie, but once you get into the rhythm of it, an extremely rewarding one. One of Nicholson's best, and Dern is just dynamite. Highly recommended.


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