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The Gypsy Moths (1969)

R  |   |  Action, Drama, Romance  |  28 August 1969 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,219 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 11 critic

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



(screenplay), (novel)
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Complete credited cast:
Mike Rettig
Elizabeth Brandon
Joe Browdy
Malcolm Webson
V. John Brandon
Annie Burke
Carl Reindel ...
Ford Rainey ...
Stand Owner
John Napier ...
Dick Donford


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


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 »


Action | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 August 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die den Hals riskieren  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Thr parade scene featured in the movie was filmed in Abilene, Kansas and used the Abilene High School Band for the marching band. The railroad scene at the end was also filmed at the Union Pacific depot in Abilene, Kansas. See more »


During the parachute jump that opens the film, the Gypsy Moths jump from the exact same plane flown by the same pilot they meet and hire - supposedly for the first time - in another town several days later. See more »


Allen Brandon: We have a college. We have a college and a missile base...
Allen Brandon: typical American town.
See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Space Travellers (1992) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Gave it a "7" because of Deborah Kerr
26 March 2005 | by (Lithuania) – See all my reviews

This movie is an overlooked gem, and deserved better than what it got. I remember it coming out in theatrical release in the late 1960s, and it received very good reviews but for some reason it quietly died off; or so it seems. The director, in the commentary on the DVD, tells why this occurred and that was basically due to a change of management at MGM shortly after this movie was released. Now, it can be appreciated with the new DVD technology.

The technology used to film this movie was very sophisticated for its time and gave results that would challenge the technology of today. Film cameras instead of video cameras were used by the skydivers; nevertheless they obtained tremendous aerial shots that are thrilling even today. It is hard to believe that these scenes were filmed thirty six years ago.

The documentary film on the DVD about the making of this movie is absolutely essential to fully enjoy and understand the skydiving associated with this movie; including the "Bat Wing" stunt skydiving that forms a sort of particular drama with this movie. A better film documentary film about this movie, which I doubt exists or will be shown, would be about the making of the love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. The had a love scene, of sorts, in the 1953 movie, "From Here to Eternity". That scene, on the beach, is quite well known. However, due to the Code restrictions then not really that much could be shown.

I believe that one unspoken reason this movie was made was to allow a reunion between Lancanster and Kerr. Also, she was willing to be naked in a movie, very rare for the late 1960s. Those would be the primary reasons why she was in the movie as she was actually somewhat miscast due to her accent; a definite British accent in Kansas is somewhat incongruous (nowhere in the movie are we told that she is, say, a war bride or a British girl who somehow otherwise married a Kansas man).

Having said that I am actually very glad they cast her! Nowadays I look a lot like her and worry about whether or not I can find another husband (divorced and looking). Debby showed that a girl could still get a gorgeous hunk like Burt even when she was 48! You guys just can't imagine what us middle aged gals feel when we see Debby and Burt finally doing the wild thing in that living room! It gives us hope that we can still get a man! Deborah Kerr still had a great body at 48, and that is why I think she did not mind doing the nude scene. I think she was not near as nervous showing off as Burt was and certainly not near as nervous as the director. Her performance was certainly a highlight of this movie.

Puzzling was the performance of William Windom; who portrayed her husband. His role is somewhat out of place; and I don't understand why his fine acting skills weren't use more than they were. His role is disjointed at best and it is hard to understand how the character is supposed to fit within this movie. There are absolutely no husband-wife dynamics shown between him and Kerr. Even in the most disjointed of marriages (such as the second of my two marriages) there is generally some sort of attachment between the two even though they may both be in the divorce court! Interestingly enough, when Lancaster was on this film he had just gone through a divorce. His wife was upset due to all the flings he had been through while married to her. Well, it is easy for this gal to see why he was not totally loyal to his wife; he had all those sexy women throwing themselves at him! And, if I had been around that area when this film was being made I would have been one of them! He was a good looking fellow then! Debby, you were a lucky gal!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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