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The Gypsy Moths (1969)

Three skydivers and their travelling thrill show barnstorm through a small midwestern town one Fourth of July weekend.

Director:

John Frankenheimer

Writers:

William Hanley (screenplay), James Drought (novel)
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Cast

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

On a 4th of July weekend, three barnstorming skydivers arrive to perform in a small Kansas town. They are hosted by the youngest member Webson's aunt, the unhappily married Elizabeth. While Browdy one-nights with a topless dancer, a doomed romance flares up between Elizabeth and Rettig. Tension builds, and explodes with a spectacular skydiving show. Written by Markku Kuoppamäki

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When you turn on by falling free... when jumping is not only a way to live, but a way to die, too... you're a Gypsy Moth. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 September 1969 (South Africa) See more »

Also Known As:

Die den Hals riskieren See more »

Filming Locations:

Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Experienced, but amateur skydivers, most with several thousand jumps to their credit, were brought in from California to double for the actors. During one take, an unexpected gust of wind pulled the chute and caused one of the skydivers to be slammed into the ground, breaking his collarbone and dislocating his shoulder. Even though in great pain, he stayed in character and managed to get up and finish the scene. He was retained by Director John Frankenheimer as a consultant. See more »

Goofs

When Mike (Lancaster) and Elizabeth (Kerr) are driving to the ladies meeting, the dome light is on inside the car. See more »

Quotes

Elizabeth Brandon: I imagine you're the sort of man who always manages to find the best and rightest reasons for everything you do. Do you think that's possible for everyone?
Mike Rettig: I'm always hopeful.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Beata Virgo Viscera (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Wild Blue Yonder
("U.S. Air Force Song")(uncredited)
Music and lyrics by Robert Crawford (as Robert MacArthur Crawford)
First two lines sung by Gene Hackman
See more »

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User Reviews

A film that is near to my heart for personal reasons
19 June 2000 | by giuseppe pelosi-3See all my reviews

As a very young boy in El Dorado, Kansas, I marveled when the film crews came to town from Hollywood to shoot this film, what is considered John Frankenheimer's `lost classic.' The story is sub-par: three barnstormers stop at a small Kansas town to put on a show and get involved in a less-than-intriguing soap opera with the occupants of a house where they are staying. What makes the movie work for me is the reoccurrence of so many memorable images from the town where I grew up, but for outsiders, the essence of small-town Kansas life is captured so purely you'll be transported to the peacefulness of a world where the arrival of daredevil skydivers is a Big Event.

Most interesting to note in this film are the back-stories. Scott Wilson was called in to replace an injured John Philip Law, who was originally cast as the young daredevil. Gene Hackman was still a fledgling, relatively unknown, and yet he managed to steal most of the scenes from the established Burt Lancaster. For the locals, this film still lingers in the memory. The Victorian home where the barnstormers stay still stands, and the screened in porch on the house's north side--built exclusively for this film by the visiting film crew--is still referred to by locals as the `MGM porch.' The fight song that the marching band plays throughout this film is still the fight song of the Butler County Grizzlies, the athletic team of the local community college. And even today, old-timers wonder whether or not that was really Deborah Kerr in the buff … or if a body double was used. Either way, you'll get a real feel for this community, an interesting first look at up-and-comers Gene Hackman and Bonnie Bedalia, and a fascinating series of sky-diving sequences that set the tone for many such scenes to come.


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