The King of Marvin Gardens  (1972)    52/100

Rating :   52/100                                                                     103 Min        15

The name of this film is a reference to an area on the American monopoly board, one which was famously misspelt (the real area is Marven Gardens, not far from Atlantic City where the rest of the board is set). It ties in with the dreams of one of the protagonists, Jason Staebler, played by Bruce Dern, who thinks he’s found a sure fire way of striking it rich via a real estate scam. His brother is played by a, for once, subdued and introspective Jack Nicholson, and the two are accompanied by Ellen Burstyn giving one of her trademark spirited performances and Julia Anne Robinson, for whom this was to be her only film appearance despite a convincing debut.

The film focuses entirely on the relationship between the four characters, both on the reflections these relationships cast, and the unexpected advent of inevitable consequence. Eventually, it is pithily eloquent and memorable. Be warned, however, despite an interesting last third the first two have little of any real viewing interest, and seem to meander aimlessly much as the viewers attention is invited to do. Debatable whether or not it’s worth pushing through the tedium, but if you’ve seen ‘Five Easy Pieces’ (the director Bob Rafelson’s previous film from 1970, also starring Jack Nicholson) this follows very much in the same stylistic vein. Also one of the four films to star Jack Nicholson with his buddy Scatman Crothers (who, incidentally, voiced ‘Jazz’ in the original ‘The Transformers’ cartoon series, which surely ranks alongside his roles in ‘The Shining’ 80 and ‘One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest’ 75).

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