The Gypsy Moths

The Gypsy Moths

Director: John Frankenheimer Cast: Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Gene Hackman


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John Frankenheimer directed this low-key drama about three men who stage a sky-diving thrill show and what happens when they roll into a small town in Kansas. Mike Rettig (Burt Lancaster) is the oldest of the group and more than a bit jaded; Joe Browdy (Gene Hackman) is the fast-talking MC who knows how to work the crowd; and Malcolm Webson (Scott Wilson) is the rookie of the group. When they get a job performing in Bridgeport, Kansas, Malcolm arranges for them to stay at the home of his Uncle John (William Windom) and Aunt Elizabeth (Deborah Kerr). John and Elizabeth's marriage has seen better days; they've grown apart from each other, and when Elizabeth meets Mike, a spark of passion catches fire between them which neither can fully control. The two fall into an affair, making love one night in the living room, not caring that John is watching them. However, this relationship does not bring Mike out of his depression and leads to a shocking incident at the group's next show. The Gypsy Moths marked the first time Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr had worked together since their memorable pairing in From Here to Eternity (1953).

Product Details

Release Date: 11/25/2014
UPC: 0888574099305
Original Release: 1969
Rating: R
Source: Warner Archives
Time: 1:47:00
Sales rank: 6,915

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Burt Lancaster Mike Rettig
Deborah Kerr Elizabeth Brandon
Gene Hackman Joe Browdy
Scott Wilson Malcolm Webson
Bonnie Bedelia Annie Burke
Sheree North Waitress
Carl Reindel Pilot
Ford Rainey Stand Owner
John Napier Dick Donford
William Windom V. John Brandon

Technical Credits
John Frankenheimer Director
Henry Berman Editor
Elmer Bernstein Score Composer
George W. Davis Art Director
Edward Lewis Producer
Henry W. Grace Set Decoration/Design
William Hanely Screenwriter
William Hanley Screenwriter
Hal Landers Producer
Philip H. Lathrop Cinematographer
Jack Mills Set Decoration/Design
Cary O'Dell Art Director
Bobby Roberts Producer
Bill Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer
William J. Tuttle Makeup

Customer Reviews

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The Gypsy Moths 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Three barnstorming skydivers come to a small midwestern town to put on a show. The skydiving stunts (actually performed by a stunt skydiving team) are fantastic! The characters are very interesting and the relationships are complex, making the movie so much more than just an action film. The behind the scenes look at the lives of ''performers'' makes this movie a classic! Burt Lancaster is powerful; Deborah Kerr, Sheree North and Bonnie Bedelia provide interest and sexual tension; Gene Hackman should have won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; and director John Frankenheimer did a superb job of tightly weaving the action and interpersonal drama. ''When the ground comes up at you like a sledgehammer, and the sweat freezes on your brow; when jumping isn't only a way to live, but a way to die, too... you're a Gypsy Moth.'' The ending makes this movie an existential masterpiece! A film for both men and women; a jewel in the rough; a neglected film building a cult following; and defintely a film of classic proportions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
''The Gypsy Moths'' (1969) is fabulous! I recommend it highly if you like a movie that's both exciting and ''deep.'' The movie shows the tension created when three skydivers mix with the locals of a small Kansas town, and Frankenheimer allows the time for the characters to develop. The skydiving stunts are quite impressive ---and real. And the subtle building of tension is masterful. Yes, Lancaster, Kerr, and Hackman are very good, but so are Scott Wilson, William Windom, Bonnie Bedelia, and Sherry North. The character development and the themes of mature adult relationships, the choices we make in our lives, and a behind the scenes look at the lives of ''performers'' make the movie more than an action picture. In the DVD extras, Frankenheimer calls ''The Gypsy Moths'' one of his personal favorites, and says out of the 194 movies and live television shows he has done, ''The Gypsy Moths'' ranks in the top 2 or 3. That's high praise given Frankenheimer's resume (which includes The Manchurian Candidate, The Train, Birdman of Alcatraz, Seven Days in May, and Seconds). Frankenheimer gives a full-length feature interview on the making of the ''The Gypsy Moths,'' including comments on his frustration when the movie was strangely dropped by MGM in its theatrical realease in a management change (because the movie ''didn't fit with the kind of new 'exploitation' pictures the new management wanted to make''). Also in the DVD extras, is a thrilling promotional movie trailer, and a behind the scenes making of the movie called ''The Skydivers,'' featuring the work by the stunt skydiving team that made over 1300 jumps to catch the aerial sequences, and interviews with Frankenheimer, Lancaster, and Kerr. All in all, ''The Gypsy Moths'' is a major film, and a brave one for Frankenheimer, who allows the time for the characters to develop and build the subtle tension, and then explodes it with the skydiving performance and it's aftermath. ''The Gypsy Moths'' has a kind of cult following, which should only grow now that the movie has been reissued on DVD and VHS, and the movie will surely become a classic.