THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS (1972)

king

Elizabeth

Chris rented The King of Marvin Gardens for a few reasons, one of them being that neither of us had ever heard of it. That can be a toss-up, but it worked out well here.

For me, being my age, the most striking thing about The King of Marvin Gardens was seeing Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, and Ellen Burstyn so young. Which is sort of weird, because it’s not like I haven’t seen them as younger people before, especially Jack Nicholson. But something about this movie, having all these actors that I mostly know as older people, all together here as young people, was sort of surreal. And it’s not like they’re teenagers or anything, I think they’re mostly in their late 30’s. But still! For the first time I felt like I understood why Jack Nicholson has a reputation of being a playboy.

But anyway, The King of Marvin Gardens is pretty strange. I felt like I didn’t know what was going on a lot of the time, but that didn’t bother me. There’s a difference between not knowing what’s going on because a movie is bad, and just not knowing what’s going on. If that makes sense. I certainly followed the movie enough to understand the plot and all, but for some scenes I just didn’t know what the hell was happening.

For me, what makes The King of Marvin Gardens so great are the opening and closing scenes. They’re not directly related, but they’re so well-performed and quite beautifully shot. It sort of makes some of the murkiness between the scenes seem completely justified.

Also . . . can I just mention Bruce Dern’s Illinois accent is amazing? Maybe it’s just from living in Illinois, but I just loved hearing him speak here.

Christopher

I really wanted to see this because I had never heard about it. And it was something I happened to come across at the library. Its the follow up movie Jack Nicholson did with Bob Rafelson after Five Easy Pieces, a movie I saw in high school I think and remember enjoying.

What I was scared most about this movie was that it would be slow and boring but I found that to be the exact opposite. I think the movie was an hour and forty minutes but I felt like we were only watching for thirty minutes. The story is basically two brothers reconnecting and trying to invest in a tropical island casino. Jack Nicholson plays a radio DJ loser and Bruce Dern plays his brother who lives in Atlantic City, has mob type connections, and spends more money than he probably really has.

What I love about this movie is how sad it is. Bruce Dern has it in his head that he’s going to start this lucrative casino and live out the rest of his years being bathed with women and money, and it is instantly apparent that this in no way could ever happen; he just doesn’t have a realistic grasp on his life. Jack Nicholson is basically there to reconnect with his older brother, someone he hasn’t seen in years, and in doing so has agreed to help him figure out the business side of starting this company.

The movie is very good and I really enjoyed it, not sure about Elizabeth really, but I would totally recommend it and it was so crazy seeing such a young Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern.

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