Sky West and Crooked

Sky West and Crooked (known in the United States as Gypsy Girl) is a 1965 romantic drama film, featuring actress Hayley Mills.[1][2] The film was directed by her father, John Mills, and was co-written by her mother, Mary Hayley Bell.[3]

Sky West and Crooked
Sky West and Crooked (1965) theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Mills
Written byMary Hayley Bell
John Prebble
Produced byJack Hanbury
StarringHayley Mills
Ian McShane
Annette Crosbie
Laurence Naismith
CinematographyArthur Ibbetson
Music byMalcolm Arnold
Distributed byRank Organization (UK)
Continental Distributing (US)
Release date
  • 1965 (1965)
CountryUnited Kingdom

The title derives from a West Country term for someone who is "not quite right in the head".


In a small, isolated village in the West Country of England, seven-year-old Brydie White is running with a playmate who trips and falls and is accidentally killed by the loaded shotgun he was carrying.

Ten years later, Brydie (Hayley Mills) is a troubled teenager. We encounter her in a graveyard scuffle with the old gravedigger. She is rescued by a young man (Ian McShane) whom the old man calls a "gypo" and a "tinker".

Her mother (Annette Crosbie, in her first film role) is a sad and lonely person who drinks heavily and is not a good mother to Brydie. Brydie is a tomboy with a fascination with dead animals and slingshots, and spends her time climbing trees and being a nuisance to the adults in the small village where she lives. She organises other children to have burials for dead animals and pieces of meat.

It becomes apparent that some of the adults, especially the dead boy's father, are not convinced of her innocence. However, Brydie has no recollection of the incident, having blocked it from her mind. When the father accuses her of murdering his son she has a mental breakdown. She runs off and ends unconscious in the river where she is rescued by the gypsy boy, Roibin.. When he carries her into the nearby gypsy camp, his grandmother says "you can't keep away from women, can you?".

They hide Brydie in the camp, and then her mum starts drinking even more heavily due to the upset at the loss. Police interview the gypsies but they deny knowledge of the girl. When police dogs are brought in they lead police to the river edge and the worst is feared.

She stays a month with the gypsies and the boy asks her to stay with them when they move on. After a romantic chat in a meadow they have their first passionate kiss. The rescue party of children find them soon after. She is informed that her mother died during her absence. She shares a final kiss with Roibin and leaves with the children.

The villagers trick the boy into coming into the village and beat him up.

The vicar goes to the campsite with Brydie and finds it abandoned "like they were never here" (apart from piles of rubbish and debris). Brydie follows a series of directional markers left by Roibin at junctions. She thinks the trail has gone cold but her dog gets the scent and she finds him again. The vicar watches their reunion from afar.

The villagers’ negative attitudes and behaviour towards Brydie are compounded by their disapproval that her mother was not married to her late father.



During pre production the film was known as Bats With Baby Faces based on a line from a T.S. Eliot poem.[4][5]

Filming locationsEdit

The film was shot on location in and around the village of Little Badminton in South Gloucestershire.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Gypsy Girl (1966) - John Mills - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  2. ^ "British 60s cinema - Sky West and Crooked".
  3. ^ "Sky West and Crooked (1966)".
  4. ^ THE NEW HAYLEY MILLS Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune 13 Dec 1964: j43.
  5. ^ FAMILY FOOTSTEPS The Tatler and Bystander; London Vol. 255, Iss. 3312, (Feb 17, 1965): 310-315.

External linksEdit