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King of the Gypsies [VHS]

4.4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Eric Roberts, Judd Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, Sterling Hayden, Shelley Winters
  • Directors: Frank Pierson
  • Writers: Frank Pierson, Peter Maas
  • Producers: Anna Gross, Dino De Laurentiis, Federico De Laurentiis
  • Format: Color, HiFi Sound, Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Paramount
  • VHS Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300216829
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,773 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This 1978 film is based on a non-fiction book about gypsy life here in the U.S. The cast is great. Sterling Hayden plays the aging Gypsy King and Shelly Winters plays his wife. The king wants to leave the leadership of the clan to his grandson, Dave, played by Eric Roberts. Dave's abusive father, however, played by Judd Hirsh tries to stand in his way. His mother, Susan Sarandon, gives an excellent performance as Rose. She's both the streetwise gypsy fortune teller and the loving mother who was herself kidnapped as a young girl to be a bride.
Some of the most interesting scenes in the film are during Dave's childhood, when he helps his mother steal diamonds from an upscale jewelry store. Throughout, he is a reluctant gypsy. He and his sister, played by a young Brook Shields, are never sent to school, never learn to read and write. As he matures, he has some important choices to make. The film moves swiftly, from beginning to end. There was action, violence, and a sense of the special kind of families that gypsies have. They live outside of the mainstream of society and have their own special rituals and rules. It was an education for me. Here there is music, dancing, partying. Here there are customs that are in direct opposition to the law. There is comedy, conflict, and tension throughout. But yet the family ties and love shine through.
Fine acting. Fine writing. Fine story. Recommended.
Comment 39 of 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
I've admired this film since it was first released to theaters in 1978. Although pure fiction (it was originally a novel), it arouses considerable curiosity about a particular segment of society of which relatively little is known. It may even encourage many to satisfy that curiosity by doing research on gypsies in general.Whatever, this film has a lot of color, atmosphere, and mood, which is greatly enhanced by a stunning musical score which weaves its way through the film quietly, and finally bursts forth like a gusher at the conclusion of the film and through the film's final credits. The story itself is sordid stuff indeed. A young gypsy (Eric Roberts in his film debut) raised in New York in the 1940's, and "working" since he was five, reaches his teens -- completely illiterate -- becomes repulsed by the gypsy life and soon repudiates everything his family and life has stood for. The harder he tries to escape it, however, the more tightly and vehemently it enfolds him. A family power struggle ensues, which brings the entire conflict to a violent showdown, the results of which lead him to realize his true destiny. Eric Roberts is intense, brooding, and totally convincing as a young man with a true and valid identity crisis. As his father from hell, Judd Hirsch is curt, bellicose, and a real scum. Susan Sarandon, even at this very early stage of her film career, delivers an authorative performance as his primitive but ultimately helpless mother. An incredibly young and beautiful Brooke Shields is his vulnerable sister, Annette O'Toole, the girl friend who tries to understand him.Read more ›
4 Comments 35 of 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Peter Maas wrote a book in 1974 called King of the Gypsies. It was the basis for Frank Pierson's film of the same name in 1978. Maas and Pierson are both excellent writers in their own right. Maas also wrote the book that was the basis for the 1975 Sidney Lumet film Serpico starring Al Pacino. Pierson won an Academy Award for Original Screenplay in 1975 for his work on Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon also starring Pacino. There's no doubt that King of the Gypsies is a well written film. It's also a well acted film. This was Eric Roberts' first major starring role (before he became King of the B-Movies) and he delivers the goods. Judd Hirsch plays the bad guy (a nice change of pace) and next to his Academy Award nominated performance in 1980's Ordinary People, this was his finest work on film. Susan Sarandon has never looked better than she does in this film and the great Sterling Hayden (The Asphalt Jungle, Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather) is perfectly cast as the aging patriarch "King Zharko Stepanowicz". The film also boasts a tremendous musical score (courtesy of David Grisman and Stéphane Grappelli among others). So the writing, acting and music are all excellent; what went wrong?

To be honest, King of the Gypsies is not a bad film at all. It's actually quite entertaining. The problem is it's just not epic enough to suit the material. Google the term "King of the Gypsies" or look it up on wikipedia and you will begin to see just how interesting the subject material truly is. Pierson mainly became a television/cable film director. Gypsies has that unmistakable "TV film" feel to it (despite cinematography by the late, great Sven Nykvist) when it should have felt more cinematic like The Godfather. That is the conflict that went on in my mind the entire time I was watching this film.
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3 Comments 20 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
One of the other reviewers is mistaken when they say that the movie was based on a novel. It is actually based on a NON-fiction book by Peter Maas, who also wrote Serpico and The Valachi Papers (and who also just died yesterday, Aug. 23, 2001). Unfortunately it is out of print. Some similarly excellent reportage on the subject of gypsy culture (from the 30's-40's) can be found in Up In The Old Hotel or McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, both by Joseph Mitchell.
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