After Five Easy Pieces (’70) it was presumed that director Bob Rafelson held mountains in the palm of his hand. Then he made the moody and meandering (if curiously brilliant) The King of Marvin Gardens (’72) and a lot of people said “uhm, wait…what?” Rafelson never fully recovered, but at least Bruce Dern, 35 at the time, delivered a career-high performance as Jason, a vaguely deranged, self-destructive con man and the brother of Jack Nicholson‘s David, a gloom-head Philadelphia radio talk-show personality, and, in the view of Jason’s abused girlfriend Sally (played by Ellen Burstyn), “full of shit!” In one pithy moment, Scatman Crother‘s Lewis character says, “Jason talks and Lewis knows.” But that seedy, chilly, desaturated Atlantic City delivers a hell of a metaphor (and almost a kind of backstory). Gardens is part of a ongoing Bruce Dern series at BAM.