Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

14 September 2008

Paradise Alley

Director: Sylvester Stallone
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Released: 1978
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Lee Canalito, Armand Assante, Frank McRae, Anne Archer, Kevin Conway

STEVE says: What a load of crap this was! It looks like the Oscar nom for Rocky went right to Stallone's head because Paradise Alley was nothing if not a vanity project.

The synopsis on the back of the DVD packet reads thus: "Smooth-talking Cosmo sees his beef-cake brother Victor as their ticket out of the slums, and with brother Lenny, and embittered war veteran, convinces the big-fisted Victor to compete in a series of bone-crunching wrestling matches. But their rapid rise to success is halted when local gangster Stitch puts up his malicioius and dangerous wrestler Frankie the Thumper to fight Victor in a 22-round winner-take-all bout." While all of that does indeed happen in the movie, it's only in the last half. The first half is full of Stallone acting like a fucking numbwit asshole, exploiting Vic's size and strength, and Lenny's ability to handle the big guy. Sure, it sets us up for the whole wrestling scenario, but this should be the first 20 minutes, not the first 54.

There were some interesting bits: the relationship between Vic and Lenny had a very "Of Mice and Men" feel to it; Lenny's history with the woman Cosmo has been wooing (if his primative advances can be seen as such); Cosmo's own relationship with a prostitute; and the story of Big Glory, the "pro" wrestler at Paradise Alley. But most - if not all - of this development is wasted in the transition from Act II to Act III. Lenny is suddenly no longer the sensitive fellow he'd been set up as, turning literally from one scene to the next into a sleazy shyster; Cosmo just as inexplicably starts showing concern for Vic; the story of Big Glory is dropped, as are the plotlines involving Lenny and Cosmo's respective girlfriends.

The direction was no better than the script, with most of the characters acting like silly, cartoonish stereotypes, while the few real characters get lost in the shuffle. It would have been so much better had Stallone not shoved Cosmo in our faces, telling the story of the brothers, instead of how the brother's story is impacted by Cosmo.


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