King of the Gypsies (US - DVD R1)
Gabe would like to advise you to just watch The Godfather I and II again...
Young David grows up among the Gypsies. His Grandfather is the reigning king of his people, and his father a drunken mess of a man. When David comes of age he turns his back on the culture and attempts to make a life for himself, but when the King falls ill, David’s mother comes looking for him with news of the King’s chosen heir.
You’d think a movie with this many stars would have more information about it readily available. The most interesting fact I can find about King of the Gypsies is Eric Roberts was nominated for a Golden Globe. It seems that besides this fact the film has been almost entirely forgotten, and I can see why. As if Dino De Laurentiis’ name wasn’t clue enough, this is a B-picture, and you don’t have to watch more then ten minutes to know what film Dino’s trying to cash-in on— The Godfather (and some of Godfather II to boot).
The film has a lot in common structurally with the first two The Godfather films, starting with a large family gathering which brings us into the alien culture, which begins telling the story of an uprising in the alien culture in several defined acts. But writer/director Frank Pierson (working from Peter Maas’ original book) isn’t the storyteller Francis Ford Coppola is, and his attempts to compress the book makes for an episodic and plodding shadow of The Godfather. The irony is, of course, that The Godfather was suppose to be a B-movie.
If the film is to be believed Gypsies are a lot like the Italian mob, only without any respect, and their vernacular is so stereotyped it sometimes physically pained me to hear it. Pierson and his impressive cast fail to find any charm in these people. One would assume I’d rather hang out with petty crooks then brutal murderers, but the gangsters of Coppola’s film aren’t annoying whelps. The Gypsies bicker, they lie incessantly, and they show very little genuine love towards each other. Fortunately Dave is reasonably relatable, so the backbone of the film works, unless we were supposed to want Dave to rejoin the Gypsies.
This is another average transfer from Legend, anamorphically enhanced and cleaned up with some effort. The print shows its age with dull colours, consistent grain, and several instances of artefacts and dirt. Details are sharp enough to tell what’s going on from scene to scene, but overall the print is a bit soft. Blacks aren’t very deep, more like dark browns, but even in relative darkness a reasonable level of detail is discernable. Edge enhancement is a minor problem, as is bleeding from bright reds.
If the plot didn’t have enough Godfather influence, the soundtrack is a dead giveaway. Traditional Gypsy music and traditional Italian music are different, but the usage and tone here is very similar. Everything sounds fine on this original Mono track. The dialogue is all clear, and the various audio elements blend together pretty well without too much overlap, though foley and on set sound effects are pretty quiet and bass is definitely lacking. There is some minimal distortion when the music track hits very high registers, but there aren’t any hisses or pops to be heard.
Nothing at all.
I wasn’t expecting much from King of the Gypsies, and I didn’t get much in return. It isn’t a bad film, but I can’t find any reason to recommend it either. If it was on television, and every other channel was total garbage I’d say give it a glance. Only life long Eric Roberts devotes need apply, and I’m pretty sure those don’t exist.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 3rd June 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Frank Pierson
Cast: Eric Roberts, Sterling Hayden, Shelley Winters, Susan Sarandon, Judd Hirsch
Length: 112 minutes
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