King of the Gypsies (film)

King of the Gypsies

Theatrical release poster by Sanford Kossin
Directed by Frank Pierson
Produced by Dino De Laurentiis (executive producer)
Federico De Laurentiis
Written by Peter Maas (book)
Frank Pierson (screenplay)
Starring Eric Roberts
Carmen Rota
Sterling Hayden
Shelley Winters
Susan Sarandon
Brooke Shields
Annette O'Toole
Music by David Grisman, Stephane Grappelli
Cinematography Sven Nykvist
Edited by Paul Hirsch
Dino De Laurentiis Company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • December 20, 1978 (1978-12-20)
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $7,325,177 (USA)

King of the Gypsies is a 1978 American drama film by Paramount Pictures starring Eric Roberts, Sterling Hayden, Shelley Winters, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields, Annette O'Toole and Judd Hirsch.

Directed by Frank Pierson, the screenplay was adapted by Pierson from the 1975 book King of the Gypsies by Peter Maas, which tells the story of Steve Tene and his Romani (Gypsy) family.

Several technical advisors, bit players and extras who worked on the movie were real gypsies. David Grisman composed the score, which prominently featured legendary jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli; both men also appeared onscreen as gypsy musicians. Future actress Rachel Ticotin was one of the gypsy dancers.

Eric Roberts was nominated for a 1979 Golden Globe for "Best Motion Picture Acting Debut Male" for his performance as Dave.

Plot summary

The film deals with the criminal ways and violent lives of a group of modern-day Gypsies based in New York City. Whilst on his deathbed their "king", Zharko Stepanowicz (Sterling Hayden), passes his position of leadership on to his unwilling grandson, Dave (Eric Roberts). In spite of Dave's reluctance to become the Gypsies' new leader, Dave's father, Groffo (Judd Hirsch), is sufficiently insecure and resentful over not winning the title himself that he attempts to have his own son killed. This leads to a major confrontation, and the film ends with the implication that Dave may finally accept his legacy with his voiceover musings about somehow bringing the rest of the tradition-bound Gypsies forward in time into the world of 20th Century customs and lifestyles.

Main cast

Additional notes

Dave's sister, Tita, is played by Brooke Shields, and his girlfriend, Sharon, is played by Annette O'Toole. This was the second consecutive film in which Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields played mother and daughter, following Pretty Baby. Six years after the release of the film, on June 20, 1984, Shelley Winters and Annie Potts appeared as guests on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Miss Winters had no memory of working with Potts and the conversation brought the house down. A clip of this segment was replayed on several Tonight Show anniversary specials.

The casting director was future producer Scott Rudin; it is his first screen credit in any capacity.

See also

External links

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