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The Gypsy Moths


1969's The Gypsy Moths chronicles a long July 4th weekend in small town Kansas, the arrival of Burt Lancaster (Reddig) and his three man skydiving team and the ripples their arrival have across the townspeople.

It features a great cast, led by Lancaster at his stoic best, Gene Hackman as his loud fellow jumper and Scott Wilson as the younger, third member of the troupe.

Wilson's extended family live in the town and they stay overnight with his Aunt Elizabeth (Deborah Kerr in full movie star mode) and her uber conservative husband John, played very well by William Windom.

Kerr and Windom also have a college student staying with them, played by a very young Bonnie Bedilia, who becomes attracted to Wilson.

Lancaster is drawn to Kerr, she is repressed and drawn to him and the film rises above what could have been standard soap opera mode thanks to great performances and the talent of director John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Black Sunday, Grand Prix) who brings out the best in everyone.

The aerial sequences are very well done and with the exception of some small snippets of bad 60's backscreening, hold up pretty well in showing the thrills of the diving team.

When it's not in the air, this is a deliberate and leisurely paced movie, but the cast, especially Lancaster and Kerr are really great.

You can definitely see shades of Popeye Doyle in Hackman here, just two years before he would become a huge star with The French Connection.

Like the small Kansas town in takes place in, there's a lot going on just beneath the quiet surface of The Gypsy Moths. B-

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