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Rocket Gibraltar (1988)

PG | | Drama | 2 September 1988 (USA)
An old patriarch unites for his birthday all members of his family. But the group of people is full of personal and social problems.


Daniel Petrie


Amos Poe

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... Levi Rockwell
Suzy Amis ... Aggie Rockwell
Patricia Clarkson ... Rose Black
Frances Conroy ... Ruby Hanson
Sinéad Cusack ... Amanda 'Billi' Rockwell (as Sinead Cusack)
John Glover ... Rolo Rockwell
Bill Pullman ... Crow Black
Kevin Spacey ... Dwayne Hanson
John Bell John Bell ... Orson Rockwell
Nicky Bronson Nicky Bronson ... Max Hanson
Danny Corkill ... Kane Rockwell (as Dan Corkill)
Macaulay Culkin ... Cy Blue Black
Angela Goethals ... Dawn Black
Sara Goethals Sara Goethals ... Flora Rockwell
Emily Poe ... Emily Rockwell


A man's family comes for his 77th birthday and while he loves all of his children and their children, he and his children don't exactly connect. However, he connects with his grandchildren. And he tells them what he wants for his birthday and they do what they can to give it to him. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

2 September 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El cohete de Gibraltar See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Pam Grier had a role as a housekeeper who was having a relationship with Levi (Burt Lancaster) but her scenes were deleted. According to Grier's autobiography, the director "feared repercussions from the interracial love scenes". See more »


As the camera pans from the boat model on the window sill to Burt Lancaster lying in bed while Billie Holiday's "You Better Go Now" plays, we see that the record player is turning counter-clockwise - indicating that she scene is played in reverse. See more »


Levi Rockwell: Their whole life was the sea, the sea and their boats. So in celebrating their deaths- yes, you can say celebrating - they used both. The families of the great Viking would put the body of their loved one on a ship, cover it with straw, and then, as the sun was setting, cast it away into the water. They would light huge bonfires on the beach, and then the Vikings would light the tips of their arrows in the bonfire and shoot them at the ship. Ah, it must have been so beautiful, fire on the water...
See more »


References E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) See more »


Foolin' Myself
Written by Jack Lawrence and Peter Tinturin
Performed by Billie Holiday
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User Reviews

Like Beau Geste, a Viking Funeral
15 April 2012 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I think someone was a big fan of Beau Geste to have written Rocket Gibraltar. If you'll remember Beau Geste the two surviving Geste brothers give their gallant brother Beau a Viking funeral just like they talked about when they were kids.

According to a recent biography of Burt Lancaster this was to be his On Golden Pond or The Shootist, but it did not win the critical reception that those other two films got. In time though it found its audience and I'm part of that audience. Burt was 75 when he made this film and he was playing a part of a man who was going into his 77 birthday and his family has come out to Westhampton Beach out in Suffolk County to celebrate his birthday.

Burt has three daughters and a son and has led an interesting life. He was a writer of sorts who survived the McCarthy/blacklist era and has brought the kids up with certain values. The kids have gone out on their own however and while none of them is a disgrace, they're far from what he idealized them to be. His wife had died several years earlier.

The daughters are Suzy Amis, Patricia Clarkson, and Frances Conroy and the son is John Glover. Amis is unmarried and truth be told she's one of loose morals. The other daughters are married to Kevin Spacey and Bill Pullman, a hack comedian and a washed up ballplayer.

It's in the grandkids that Burt sees some hope and maybe salvation for his ideals. He likes them all, but his favorite is MacCauley Culkin years before his Home Alone films. He tells them that his ideal would be a Viking funeral, after all the thought of his cadaver being worm food is nothing for a real man to want.

Of course the kids set out to do just that and they do it in a winning manner. These kids truly connected with their grandfather the love really comes through in the scenes with each other and with Lancaster.

Rocket Gibraltar is funny and sad and bittersweet all at once. I'd give it a look, there are worse ways to go out.

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