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A talk radio DJ gets involved with his brother's get rich quick scheme.
One winter day, after relating a dramatic, but mostly invented tale about his childhood, late-night Philadelphia radio raconteur David Staebler receives an urgent call from his older brother Jason, from whom he has not heard in a year-and-a-half. Over the phone, Jason persuades David, who lives with his grandfather, to join him in Atlantic City. When David steps out of the Atlantic City train station, however, he is met only by Jason's flamboyant girl friend Sally and a brass band salute. Sally explains that Jason is in jail and needs his help getting out. Reluctantly the pensive, mild-mannered David visits Jason in jail and agrees to speak with Lewis, Jason's racketeer boss, on his behalf. Upon arriving at Lewis' establishment, however, David is ignored by the various bookies working the phones, then is taunted by an older black man. Frustrated, David leaves empty-handed, but later finds Jason, who was, in fact, bailed out by Lewis, cavorting on the boardwalk with Sally and her grown stepdaughter Jessica. The fast-talking Jason waxes poetic about Atlantic City in its heyday, when its sites, including the elegant Marvin Gardens, were featured on the Monopoly game board. As he escorts David to his suite in a rundown hotel, Jason explains that he is innocent of the felony theft charges against him but that Lewis has the power to press charges if he chooses. Jason then bombards David with a colorful sales pitch regarding his latest investment scheme, a plan to buy a Hawaiian island. Jason dreams of building a lavish resort casino on the island and wants David to handle the entertainment end of the business. Although Jason insists he already has six million dollars in investments and that Lewis is involved in the finances, David resists endorsing his brother's scheme. The next day, Sally becomes hysterical after she is nearly kicked out of the hotel suite for lack of payment. After convincing Surtees, the hotel manager, that he is legitimately trying to close a deal to sell the hotel for owner Lewis, Jason is allowed to stay, and Sally calms down. In the middle of the night, while holed up in the suite bathroom, David attempts to record his thoughts for his radio program and is interrupted by a curious Jessica. In the morning David momentarily lets his guard down, pretending with Jason to be an outrageous boardwalk salesman. Jason continues to press David to become his partner in the island scheme and hints that Jessica is attracted to him. Continuing his elaborate pitch, Jason rents the city's convention hall one night, so that he, Sally, Jessica and David can pretend they are participants in the Miss America Beauty Pageant. The foursome then dine with two Japanese businessmen to discuss the Hawaii deal. During the lobster dinner, David does his best to charm the Japanese but soon becomes aware that Jason has been less than honest about Lewis' involvement. At the same time, Sally notices Jason flirting with Jessica and grows despondent. Back in the hotel suite, David upbraids Jason for leading him on, just as he did two years before when they were supposed to travel the world together. Jason tries to diffuse David's anger by professing his brotherly love and continuing to talk eloquently about the island, which he plans to name Philosopher King in honor of David. The next day, Sally, convinced that she is a beauty has-been, burns her clothes on the beach and buries all her makeup in the sand. She then hacks off her long hair and tosses the pieces into the fire. Following Sally's tirade, David begins to compose a story on tape, in which he claims to have once lived like a hermit for eleven days. Noting that after six days alone, he felt like he was disappearing, David listens to the tape while rummaging through Sally's dresser drawers and discovers a gun. Late that night, while David is lying in Jason's bed, two black men slip into the room. David grabs Sally's gun and scares the men off, then confronts one of them in the hotel lobby. David deduces they were sent by Lewis and goes to meet the boss at a nightclub. There he is surprised to discover that Lewis is the older black man he met upon first arriving in Atlantic City. Lewis explains that, for years, Jason acted as his front man, helping him to complete deals in the South he would have otherwise been unable to negotiate as a black man. Now, Lewis complains, Jason has become "too big for his britches" and is trying to act like his partner instead of his employee. After Lewis makes clear that he will put Jason back in jail if he persists in his schemes, David returns to the hotel and angrily informs Jason he is going home. Sally, who assumes Jason intends to dump her for Jessica, joins in the argument, brandishing her gun while screaming in fury. When Jason brushes off Sally's threats, she fires several rounds into his chest, killing him. Soon after, David escorts Jason's coffin back to Philadelphia and wonders on his radio broadcast how anything "serious" could ever happen to his carefree brother. David cries before signing off, then returns home to his grandfather, who has stayed up late to project home movies of a young Jason and David on his bedroom wall.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||New York Film Festival screening: 12 Oct 1972; New York opening: 14 Oct 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
DVD rented from local video store
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||Columbia Pictures|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||BBS Productions|
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