I've admired this film since it was first released to theaters in 1978. Although pure fiction (it was originally a novel), it arouses considerable curiosity about a particular segment of society of which relatively little is known. It may even encourage many to satisfy that curiosity by doing research on gypsies in general.Whatever, this film has a lot of color, atmosphere, and mood, which is greatly enhanced by a stunning musical score which weaves its way through the film quietly, and finally bursts forth like a gusher at the conclusion of the film and through the film's final credits. The story itself is sordid stuff indeed. A young gypsy (Eric Roberts in his film debut) raised in New York in the 1940's, and "working" since he was five, reaches his teens -- completely illiterate -- becomes repulsed by the gypsy life and soon repudiates everything his family and life has stood for. The harder he tries to escape it, however, the more tightly and vehemently it enfolds him. A family power struggle ensues, which brings the entire conflict to a violent showdown, the results of which lead him to realize his true destiny. Eric Roberts is intense, brooding, and totally convincing as a young man with a true and valid identity crisis. As his father from hell, Judd Hirsch is curt, bellicose, and a real scum. Susan Sarandon, even at this very early stage of her film career, delivers an authorative performance as his primitive but ultimately helpless mother. An incredibly young and beautiful Brooke Shields is his vulnerable sister, Annette O'Toole, the girl friend who tries to understand him. In a very curious and strange performance, Sterling Hayden is the old gypsy king, and a blown-up and blown-out Shelley Winters his gypsy queen (I doubt whether she has ten sustained sentences throughout this entire film, but she is seen throughout --- how can you miss her?) Summing up, this is a film that many may find a little disturbing, yet somewhat enlightening and totally entertaining. It's unlikely that you will be bored.