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The King of Marvin Gardens

The King of Marvin Gardens

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The King of Marvin Gardens is a 1972 American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 drama film. It stars Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

, Bruce Dern
Bruce Dern
Bruce MacLeish Dern is an American film actor. He also appeared as a guest star in numerous television shows. He frequently takes roles as a character actor, often playing unstable and villainous characters...

, Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn is a leading American actress of film, stage, and television. Burstyn's career began in theatre during the late 1950s, and over the next ten years she appeared in several films and television series before joining the Actors Studio in 1967...

 and Scatman Crothers
Scatman Crothers
Benjamin Sherman "Scatman" Crothers was an American actor, singer, dancer and musician known for his work as Louie the Garbage Man on the TV show Chico and the Man, and as Dick Hallorann in The Shining in 1980...

. It is one of several collaborations between Nicholson and director Bob Rafelson
Bob Rafelson
Robert "Bob" Rafelson is an Emmy Award winning American film director, writer and producer. He was an early member of the New Hollywood movement in the 1970s and is most famous for directing and co-writing the film Five Easy Pieces, starring Jack Nicholson, as well as being one of the creators of...

. The majority of the film is set in a wintry Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City is a city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, and a nationally renowned resort city for gambling, shopping and fine dining. The city also served as the inspiration for the American version of the board game Monopoly. Atlantic City is located on Absecon Island on the coast...

, with the plot and the cinematography by László Kovács
László Kovács (cinematographer)
László Kovács, A.S.C. was a Hungarian cinematographer who was influential in the development of American New Wave films. Most famous for his award-winning work on Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces, Kovács was the recipient of numerous awards, including three Lifetime Achievement Awards...

. The title alludes to one of the properties in the game Monopoly
Monopoly (game)
Marvin Gardens, the leading yellow property on the board shown, is actually a misspelling of the original location name, Marven Gardens. The misspelling was said to be introduced by Charles Todd and passed on when his home-made Monopoly board was copied by Charles Darrow and thence to Parker...

 (original version).

Plot


Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern play estranged siblings David and Jason, the former a depressive late-night-radio talk show host, the latter an extroverted con man. When Jason drags his younger brother and his (Jason's) bitter aging beauty-queen squeeze (Burstyn) to a dreary Atlantic City and into a real-estate scam, events spiral toward tragedy. A skeptical David has no faith in Jason's scam. Albeit in a fit of anger and frustration, Jason at one point chides David for wallowing in his dark, lonely depressed life. The Burstyn character becomes a disgruntled woman who winds up shooting Jason. The movie ends with David escorting his brothers corpse on a train ride home. The movie was filmed almost entirely in Atlantic City, and offers a lot of shots of Atlantic City as it still looked in 1972, before the big Casino-Hotels.

The Character of Jessica is a step-daughter from the Burstyn character's prior marriage. The film briefly alludes to some sort of kinky threeway relationship between the two women and the Bruce Dern character; In one scene, we see the two women topless in a hotel bedroom, squirting water guns at each other. And then Jason enters the bedroom and closes the door, leaving David by himself in an adjoining room.

Lewis, played by Scatman Crothers, is an Atlantic City gangster who has engaged in some dealings with Jason.

The film has many surreal
Surreal
Surreal may refer to:*Anything related to or characteristic of Surrealism, a movement in philosophy and art*"Surreal" , a 2000 song by Ayumi Hamasaki*Surreal , an album by Man Raze*Surreal humour, a common aspect of humor...

 scenes including a simulated Miss America Pageant in a deserted hall and a horseback confrontation between David and Jason.

Cast

  • Jack Nicholson
    Jack Nicholson
    John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

     - David Staebler
  • Bruce Dern
    Bruce Dern
    Bruce MacLeish Dern is an American film actor. He also appeared as a guest star in numerous television shows. He frequently takes roles as a character actor, often playing unstable and villainous characters...

     - Jason Staebler
  • Ellen Burstyn
    Ellen Burstyn
    Ellen Burstyn is a leading American actress of film, stage, and television. Burstyn's career began in theatre during the late 1950s, and over the next ten years she appeared in several films and television series before joining the Actors Studio in 1967...

     - Sally
  • Julia Anne Robinson - Jessica
  • Scatman Crothers
    Scatman Crothers
    Benjamin Sherman "Scatman" Crothers was an American actor, singer, dancer and musician known for his work as Louie the Garbage Man on the TV show Chico and the Man, and as Dick Hallorann in The Shining in 1980...

     - Lewis
  • Charles Lavine - Grandfather

Memorable Scenes

  • Early in the film, we see David in his radio studio, telling his story why he doesn't eat fish. On the radio, he recalls a childhood story: His parents were away. He sat in the kitchen with his brother and grandfather eating dinner. His grandfather started to choke on a fish bone. Instead of giving the grandfather a piece of bread, they sat and watched him choke on the fish bone. However, the final scene in the movie is David returning home, and checking up on his grandfather, before going to bed.

External links