Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s King of Marvin Gardens, The (1972)

King of Marvin Gardens, The (1972)

The introverted host of a late-night radio chat show becomes embroiled in his younger brother’s get-rich-quick schemes in Atlantic City in Jack Nicholson and director Bob Rafelson’s follow-up to Five Easy Pieces (1970).

Nicholson is the intellectual and withdrawn radio presenter, David Staebler, with Bruce Dern as his brother, Jason, a brash aspiring property developer, married to Sally (Ellen Burstyn) and living in a hopeless dream world.

Set in a windy, charmless Atlantic City, its original title was The Philosopher King, and the final title derives from the American version of Monopoly.


Filmed in the once-popular Marlborough-Blenheim hotel. By 1972 the hotel had fallen on hard times like most of Atlantic City and, while the hotel continued operating until 1978, it was eventually bought by Park Place Entertainment and (despite protest) demolished in 1979 and replaced with Ballys Park Place Casino.

Some rate Nicholson’s performance as a career-best and his wistful monologues at the radio microphone are indeed brilliant. Others may find the cold, cerebral atmosphere easy to resist.

David Staebler
Jack Nicholson
Jason Staebler
Bruce Dern
Ellen Burstyn
Julia Anne Robinson
Scatman Crothers
Charles Lavine
Arnold Williams
John P Ryan
Sully Boyar
Josh Mostel

Bob Rafelson