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The King of Marvin Gardens

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)



Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 1,884

My Rating

Movie Info

Dreams die hard in wintry Atlantic City in Bob Rafelson's downbeat character drama. Depressive deejay David Staebler (Jack Nicholson) tends to his grandfather as he philosophizes on late-night Philadelphia talk radio. When his huckster older brother Jason (Bruce Dern) calls out of the blue one day, David travels to Atlantic City to see what his latest easy money scheme is. Along with his former beauty queen companion Sally (Ellen Burstyn) and her pretty stepdaughter Jessica (Julia Anne


Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Apr 25, 2000

Sony Pictures Entertainment

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (8) | DVD (7)

Admirers of director Bob Rafelson's previous feature, Five Easy Pieces, will be stunned by the tedious pretensions of his newest effort.

July 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is talky and often abrasive, but it sticks in the mind.

July 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An odd, unsettling movie overall, vague in its characterisation and narrative, dotted with bewildering asides and lacking any real warmth or humour.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bob Rafelson's The King of Marvin Gardens is a perversely satisfying movie -- it works after going out of its way not to -- and a very eccentric one.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rafelson's kind of poetic realism, an accuracy in the treatment of unexpected settings, looked like quality to some in Five Easy Pieces two years back. Now it looks like the most pretentious of tired clichés.

May 21, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is well worth seeing, but the real attraction is the stunning depiction of Atlantic City.

May 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Electric Sheep
Electric Sheep

A flawed masterpiece full of menace, surreal moments and obscure dialogues, with the city photographed in all its desolate, decaying beauty ...

May 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A haunting, beautifully acted tale of impossible dreams and lost hope.

May 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

A cult classic about fading dreams that has curiously improved with age.

May 24, 2013 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

The wintry Atlantic City is brilliantly evoked; the firecracker dialogue is a joy, and the final, chaotic denouement is genuinely unexpected.

May 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

[A] taxingly morose, intermittently interesting reunion between the director and star of the tremendous Five Easy Pieces.

May 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Introspective and self-conscious, it's a chill offering that struggles to find its own voice.

May 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Criminally underrated with two great performances from the lead males.

May 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A minor-key marvel.

May 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The King of Marvin Gardens reminds us of the diversity and dynamism of the New Hollywood movement. And how odd it is that a largely forgotten film should feel so utterly unforgettable.

May 10, 2013 Full Review Source: The List
The List

Rafelson relies heavily on overt symbolism and visual metaphor, which provides plenty of food for thought for the literary-minded, but also tends to weigh down the narrative and make it feel more heavy-handed than it should

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

A worthwhile Rafelson outing with striking photography by Laszlo Kovacs

August 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

Alternately dreary and fascinating.

July 26, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Memorable performances from the players, including Ellen Burstyn as a psychotic girlfriend of Dern's.

July 8, 2004 Full Review Source:

Irresistible. It was a bitterly odd pic that offered an Atlantic City scenario that had no saltwater taffy to sweeten the taste.

September 2, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

One of those interesting, well-acted chamber dramas at which 1970s Hollywood excelled.

August 16, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

Audience Reviews for The King of Marvin Gardens

For what The King of Marvin Gardens lacks in story is certainly makes up for in script, performance and artistic imagery. It's as surreal as you'd expect from one of the co-writers of The Monkees and is the perfect example of free 70's thinking alongside the sobering up from the summer of love of yesteryear. A great slice of 70's American cinema.
November 28, 2012

Super Reviewer

Ellen Burstyn is crazy (as usual)
October 27, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

O reencontro de dois irmãos. As diferenças de suas personalidades e os planos que fazem para permanecer mais juntos. Uma estranha visão sobre à familia. Sombrio.
May 7, 2011
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Easily one of the most overlooked movies of the 70s. This has such a brave finale that completely changes the entire plot, character motives and mood of the movie. Bob Rafelson takes a story about two estranged brothers and turns it into something so much more engaging and memorable. Knowing Jack Nicolson, it's almost bizarre not to see him have multiple freak outs in a movie, especially during his 70s era of acting. He plays a really introspective and reserved character that honestly ends up being just as admirable as his more famous ones. Who really does end up completely dominating the movie is a completely unsuspecting Ellen Burstyn. When you think of character development, there is no better example than her in this movie. To see her go from a seemingly jolly and upbeat person into a train wreck of doom is an event you can't miss. This has all the great cinematography and direction that Bob Rafelson had with Five Easy Pieces, but this is a completely different take on America.
March 15, 2011

Super Reviewer

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