The King of the Gypsies

Frank Pierson in Person

Like The Godfather before it, King of the Gypsies is about the old ways giving way to the irresistible demands of modernity. And like that film, this engrossing chronicle of urban gypsies is very much about a reluctant and rebellious son who struggles with the passions of family and power. Eric Roberts, in his debut, plays doe-eyed Dave Stepanowicz, grandson to King Zharko (Sterling Hayden), aging patriarch of the East Coast Romany. A fairly assimilated New Yorker, Dave has fled the gypsy tribe and its scam artists, thugs, and fortunetellers, until the impending death of Zharko brings about a bloody rivalry between him and his thoroughly dissolute dad (Judd Hirsch). Frank Pierson's adaptation of the Peter Maas book retains many of the documentary details, conjuring a captivating glimpse of a culture that thrives on its invisibility. David Grisman's sparkling score with onscreen solos by Stephane Grappelli offers great fiddle while Romany burns.

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