The King of Marvin Gardens

A worthwhile Rafelson outing with striking photography by Laszlo Kovacs in which Nicholson and Bruce Dern play dysfunctional brothers. Jason (Dern) is a shyster in Atlantic City, trying to shore up interest in an outrageous real estate deal and get his reserved and sheepish brother, David (Nicholson), who is generally embarrassed by his brother’s antics, to partner up with him. More than anything, David just want to straighten out Jason’s life. In tow are two women: Sally (Burstyn), a floozy, and Jessica (Robinson), a much younger woman who fancies herself a beauty queen but who would be content merely being Jason’s plaything. Anyhow, Rafelson’s socially conscious portrait of the underbelly of the American dream lacks the punch of Five Easy Pieces and is decidedly far artier in ambition — to haphazard dramatic effect. Still, it’s well acted (most notably by Dern and Burstyn) and, as earlier stated, beautifully shot.

Grade: B

Directed by: Bob Rafelson
Written by: Jacob Brackman, Bob Rafelson
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn, Julia Anne Robinson

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