A great accompaniment to Five Easy Pieces, this buddy-up between director Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson is a hidden nugget from the New Hollywood gold-rush. It sees all-night radio-host Nicholson leave the airwaves to visit his brother (Bruce Dern), who’s dossing with an ageing Ellen Burstyn and her ditzy stepdaughter (Julia Anne Robinson). As they traipse around Atlantic City the two men stumble after their dreams, with Nicholson lost in his memories and Dern scamming to win a ticket to his paradise island.
At the time, Rafelson fancied himself as a legendary auteur in the making and his self-consciously arty Monopoly metaphor (from jail to the boardwalk to hotel-buying) proves it. But the role-reversal casting (Nicholson introverted; Dern flamboyant) pays off, giving vibe to a movie that reveals itself through silences and chatter before the climax slams everything together. Intimate, eccentric and poignant.