Gypsy Moths, The (1969)

The Gypsy Moths (1969), directed by John Frankenheimer.

On a hot July 4th weekend in a small Kansas town, three skydivers bring their thrill show to town. Gene Hackman is loud and gregarious, a natural salesman. Burt Lancaster is laconic and brooding, maybe thinking about dying. Scott Wilson ("the kid") worries a lot.

Some great aerial stunt shots, just a few are faked. Good color. The town is realistic and has both the wholesome high school marching band and the seedy strip club downtown.

It's not a complex drama. Sort of a passion-and-danger soap opera. But the cast is strong and it is fun to watch the ensemble. See how Lancaster and Hackman deal in their different ways with William Windom, sad and passively malicious under formal politeness.

Each jumper has a bit of romance. Lancaster with unhappily married Deborah Kerr, 16 years after From Here to Eternity. At age 48 she does her only (very brief) nude scene.

Gene Hackman hooks up with stripper (or "go-go dancer") Sheree North. The "kid" holds hands with Bonnie Bedelia, age 21.

Elmer Bernstein score.