Thoughts on Sylvester Stallone’s Career and other Stallone Related Commentary (Part 1)
I originally began writing this post sometime in the week November 6, 2017. This was prior to sexual assault allegations against Sylvester Stallone being publicized today (November 16, 2017), as I compose parts of this post.
Not only is Stallone accused of having intimidated a 16 year old girl to have sex with himself and a bodyguard of his around 1986, but one article mentions other allegations against him by other women, including a half sister named Toni-Ann, who died of lung cancer in 2012.
I never heard of these allegations until now.
I did see some things online a few years ago about Stallone paying hush money to his half sister Toni-Ann, but the articles never (that I recall) specify what it was all about. All I could glean from articles is that she had a drug addiction problem.
Other women, such as Stallone’s ex girlfriend Janice Dickinson and an exotic dancer named Margie Carr, have claimed that Stallone sexually assaulted them, or tried to, or engaged in other inappropriate behavior.
I included a set of links to news sites about those allegations in this post on my blog, and I may reproduce those resources below or in future posts.
I believe the women who are making these allegations. I don’t think any of them have a reason to lie. (I will probably explain why in more detail in a future post.)
Having now been made aware of the accusations against Stallone by three or four different women, it really colors how I view him now – which isn’t favorably.
And I wanted to like this guy.
I did not intend to make posts critical of the guy.
I had really adored the Rocky character, too. I was expecting that Stallone was at least somewhat similar in real life to the character – at the very least, not a deviant, arrogant, selfish pervert.
I was reacquainting myself with the Rocky movies after having seen them again about a month ago after many years. From there, I was going to write a post or two reviewing or commenting upon those movies.
I was also going to do a little more research on Stallone, expecting I was going to find some nice things about the guy, not these awful tawdry accusations, accusations which I believe to be true.
My motive for writing this series of posts springs from a sense of disillusionment and disappointment.
This headline, which appeared on Google News sometime around November 14, 2017, is pretty ironic (in that, two days later, the stories of his alleged sexual abuse of a teen girl re-surfaced):
MY HISTORY WITH STALLONE
I’ve never met Stallone in person, nor corresponded with him before. That’s not what this section of the post is about.
I re-watched a few of the “Rocky” movies when they were shown on a cable channel a few weeks ago (in October 2017).
I initially was going to write a post or two about the Rocky movies, but I had to write more.
I may still, in the future, devote another, separate post or two about the Rocky movie franchise (I already started one post in late October 2017 that is in draft stage), so I don’t want to delve too deeply into the Rocky movies in this post.
Initially, Stallone seemed an enigma to me, even though I did a lot of reading about him online – until today, when I came across the list of sexual abuse allegations. (I’ll return to that issue later, probably in a separate post.)
I recently saw “Rocky” (part 1) in its entirety on television a few weeks ago (late October 2017) and was charmed and captivated by that film.
I was a little kid when the first ‘Rocky’ movie was released in movie theaters in 1976, and I did not see that film at that time, not in theaters.
A few years later, when I was still a little kid, one of the main television networks aired “Rocky” one evening.
I have vague memories of my parents watching it.
I watched bits and pieces of the movie – I recall walking in and out of the den and watching a few minutes of it here and there as my parents watched it – but as I was only a small kid, I was incapable of understanding a lot of what I saw.
By the time I got to my mid or late teens, I ended up seeing Rocky 4 on the VCR.
(Yes, I said VCR. This was before the internet, Net Flix, and so on. In those days, you either had to go to a theater to see a film or rent it on VHS tape and watch it on home on your VCR.)
My older brother was visiting from college back then and was shocked I had not seen Rocky 4, so he ran out and rented a copy, and we watched it.
As the end credits of Rocky 4 were rolling up the screen, my brother turned to me to ask what I felt about it.
I told him I was kind of confused. He asked why.
I said, “Isn’t this based on the same Rocky character who started out poor, living in Philly?”
My brother said, “Yes… didn’t you see Rocky part 1, 2, and 3?”
I told him I saw portions of part 1 on television but didn’t understand all of it, and no, I had not at that point watched 2 and 3.
My brother was shocked once more and ran back to the video rental place to bring back copies of parts 2 and 3.
As the years drifted past, I kind of forget ever having seen parts 1, 2, or 3.
I basically ignored Sylvester Stallone until the last couple of weeks of October 2017, when I actually sat through a televised marathon of the Rocky movies.
As I was growing up during the 1980s, I was aware of who Stallone was, but I didn’t watch many of his movies during that time, because they did not appeal to me.
During the 1980s (and into the 1990s), I regularly read movie reviews in the daily paper, I would watch shows such as “Entertainment Tonight” that would air “behind the scenes, making of” clips from movies (including Stallone’s).
In addition, when I was a teen, I read copies of my mother’s People magazine (which sometimes carried stories about or interviews with Stallone), and I would watch movie review shows, such as Siskel and Ebert.
In all those outlets and media, I was exposed to Stallone’s works.
During the 1980s and 90s, Stallone’s biggest competitor was Arnold Schwarzengger. Out of the two, Schwarzenegger was my favorite – growing up, I was a tom boy who did not like romantic comedy movies or “chick flicks.”
I preferred Science Fiction, horror, or action films.
One reason I preferred Schwarzengger movies to Stallone’s was that Schwarzengger typically appeared in a Sci-Fi flavor of action flick – you could see Schwarzengger playing the role of a killer cyborg who time traveled from the future, or you could see him play a guy being hunted by an alien in a jungle.
By contrast, Stallone usually played a standard, every day cop character who just went around shooting at other every day people.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that Stallone, that I can recall, jumped into the Sci Fi genre with movies such as Demolition Man and Judge Dredd.
Prior to that, Stallone was basically known for playing Rocky Balboa and Rambo.
For years, until recently, I was under the mistaken notion that the Rocky movies were all about boxing, boxing, boxing (I had forgotten seeing parts 2 – 4 back in the day).
As I’ve never been interested in sports movies, I avoided the Rocky movies.
Rambo was an ordinary military vet who had PTSD who went around shooting up normal, average people – not aliens, zombies, or mutant freaks, so I was not interested.
At some time in the early or mid 1990s, my brother once again, when he came to visit me at the holidays, rented some Stallone movies.
Thanks to my brother, around that time, I saw ‘Tango and Cash,’ ‘Demolition Man,’ and ‘Judge Dredd’ (or it’s possible I saw one of those later, on my own when it was repeated on cable).
Some of those Stallone movies were fun or entertaining but were terribly, terribly cheese-ball and stupid. They sure didn’t make me want to run out and watch other Stallone films.
After I watched (or re-watched) the Rocky movies on cable television a few weeks ago, as of October 2017, including part 1, I realized that these Rocky movies were not about sports per se, but that the boxing was serving as a metaphor for life.
The first Rocky movie, I was astonished to realize, was not even an underdog or sports movie at its heart but a love story, the story of how Rocky meets and wins over his love interest, Adrian. Of course, the first Rocky film was also about overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream or goal in life.
I did not understand any or deeply appreciate any of those concepts when I saw parts of ‘Rocky’ on television when I was a kid in the late 1970s or early 1980s – but I grasp it now.
My new-found interest and like of the original Rocky movie (and one or two of its sequels) created in me an interest in other Stallone films, so I began googling around for more about Stallone and his movies, and I watched clips of some on You Tube.
I also, in the past week or two, watched Stallone films on cable I had not seen before, such as “Over the Top” and “Rhinestone.”
STALLONE’S MOVIES – GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
I don’t care to discuss any pre- Rocky roles Stallone had, including one in a soft core porn film which I read he took only out of desperation because he was broke and needed the money.
I’d like to mix my own thoughts on Stallone’s movies with comments taken from others.
I think the original Rocky movie was the only truly quality movie Stallone was in or wrote.
As far as other Stallone movies I have personally seen (and I have not seen all of them, but I have seen quite a few), they show a steady decline from 1976’s Rocky.
From Rocky, all the way up to whatever movies Stallone has made recently, one can see a steady erosion of quality.
I find it bewildering and sad that the same guy who gave us the wonderful film and character of 1976’s Rocky frittered away his talent.
Many of his post-Rocky movies range from awful and cringe-worthy to average, boring, or merely competent.
Some of his post-Rocky movies come across as nothing but money grabs – which Stallone has admitted to in a few interviews.
I’ve seen articles that report that Stallone has admitted that Rocky (part) 5 was a cash grab, as was the movie “Over The Top.”
Stallone, at times, traded any sort of artistic integrity for the money, and while he may currently be a multi-millionaire, it’s sadly to the detriment of his portfolio or resume’.
I also think Stallone’s willingness to take money over producing quality work later resulted in his inability to be taken seriously as an actor, to be offered better roles, and so on.
I think he shot himself in the foot career-wise, in other words.
And it’s really sad. I see a lot of wasted potential with this guy.
From The Guardian, 2016, a long excerpt which I feel is applicable to this portion of the post:
Having boxed himself into a corner, Stallone resorted to the same tactic that had saved him when he was a struggling actor: he turned his real-life predicament into a screenplay.
In Rocky III, also from 1982, the fighter is prone to the same complacency that had consumed his creator.
While his opponent, the savage Clubber Lang (Mr T), is demolishing adversaries, Rocky is shown enjoying his wealth and goofing around with the Muppets. “Seven years had passed since Rocky,” Stallone said. “Panic and fear set in. I used that emotion to get back to the person I was.”
The climactic fight was the most brutal yet (130 blows compared to 35 in the first film and 75 in the second). A surging No 1 rock song (Survivor’s“Eye of the Tiger”) gave the movie some extra oomph.
Suddenly Rocky seemed like a contender. The transfusion of biographical elements had once more acted as a pick-me-up.
It should have ended there.
But Stallone had not heeded the lesson of Rocky III. His pursuits outside the Rocky franchise suggested a one-trick pony that believed it was a thoroughbred.
He directed the terrible Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive and made movies he openly disparaged, such as the Dolly Parton comedy Rhinestone (“You’d have thought we had all got together and decided how we could ruin our careers the fastest”).
He starred in a xenophobic Rambo sequel and beat his own speedy screenwriting record by claiming to have polished off the cop thriller Cobra in 16 hours. (It showed.)
He became the highest-paid star in Hollywood after receiving $12m for Over the Top, a would-be Rocky with arm-wrestling.
He needed that sort of cash, too, what with a full-time staff of over 200 and a costly divorce eating into his fortune.
Most damagingly, he made another Rocky.
After Rocky III, he had said: “I love the character too much to do a Rocky IV and have people go away disappointed and say we bled it dry. So this is it.”
A mere three years later, he was back in the ring.
Rocky IV, in which Rocky defeats Drago (Dolph Lundgren) on Russian soil, is the worst of the series, and not only because the comic relief is provided by a robot butler.
There is also the abundance of Music Video Flashback Montages and a final scene in which the Soviet crowds cheer Rocky improbably as he delivers a “Why can’t we all just get along?” speech while draped in the stars and stripes.
A downbeat fifth episode followed in 1990, in which brain trauma was diagnosed in the newly impoverished, down-at-heel Rocky. Even Stallone knew he’d gone too far this time.
On a personal level, it’s hard for me to say what kind of guy Stallone is in real life.
Nov. 16, 2017 update: now that I’m seeing sexual abuse allegations against Stallone in the media, and other negative information, I’m afraid I now know: he’s apparently a slime ball, and I take no delight in typing that or learning about it.
As I stated in the opening of this series, I walked into researching Stallone thinking I was going to find out he’s more or less a stand-up guy in real life. It looks as though I was wrong.
As to the sexual abuse allegations, I think I’ll save more of that for later in the post.
Anyway, an actor’s personal life, his or her character and morality, does matter to me.
If I find out that an actor, who I saw in a movie that I really enjoyed, is a jerk, egoist, deviant, or dirt bag in real life, it definitely erodes my enjoyment or ability to ever watch again any movie they have been in that I enjoyed before.
(See my several blog posts on actor Chris O’Dowd for examples of that, if you need to. O’Dowd pretty much ruined the “Bridesmaids” movie for me. The character he played in that movie, a state trooper, is an absolute doll, but in real life, O’Dowd is a disappointment, though I’m unaware of any sexual abuse allegations against him, at least.)
Stallone doesn’t reveal to much of himself on his Twitter account, from what I saw.
I barely glanced over Stallone’s Instagram account a couple weeks ago, but he doesn’t reveal a whole lot there, either – mainly just shares photos of his daughters or co-workers.
Stallone comes across these days, in interviews, as being humble and down to earth, which I am happy to see, but I can’t tell if that is genuine, or if it’s an act he’s putting on for the public.
Also, based on anecdotes I’ve read or heard by others who worked with or for him in the 1980s, Stallone was egotistical, pushy, a control freak, and a pain in the ass to deal with.
ACTING, FILM FAILURES AND CONTROL FREAK-ERY
There was a certain pop singer, who, during the 1980s, tried to become a movie star.
Madonna’s movie career was largely unsuccessful: she was widely recognized as being a wooden actress, was only good at playing characters similar to herself, and, notes her brother, she was a control freak, which is one thing that sank her movies:
Ciccone insists that his sister is a talented actress, but she ruined her chances in films by insisting on taking charge during filming.
He says, “When she relinquishes control and allows other people to do what they are good at, she produces something like Evita like Desperately Seeking Susan.
“The girl can act, it’s just the wrong choices and too much control,” says Madge’s brother.
I bring all that up because I think it’s applicable to Stallone.
In the weeks leading up to my composition of these Stallone posts, I read a lot of articles about Stallone and listened to a lot of Stallone related audio (interviews on You Tube and so on) – and this theme of Stallone being a control freak in any movie he was in kept appearing.
More on that issue here (Stallone was originally offered the cop part in the film Beverly Hills Cop but wanted to change the script, and he did so; it was rejected, so he had to make it into his own movie, called Cobra):
Cobra is a terrible film.
It has the visual panache of a middling A-Team episode, the dialogue appears to have been written by someone recovering from a severe brain trauma and don’t get me started on the mise-en-scene.
… It’s widely acknowledged that the original script for Beverly Hills Cop was terrible, but through the improvisations of Eddie Murphy, who added completely new scenes… they managed to turn around a film that was poorly written.
The fact that Cobra’s blueprint was a horrible script, it comes as no surprise that the resulting film has a Tommy Wiseau level of incongruity to it.
… you get the feeling that Stallone wrote the action sequences and then beyond simple exposition the script had large blank sections that they filled in on set.
Even the action scenes don’t make a whole lot of sense…
[Movie’s plot summarized by the reviewer at this point]
…That sounds like a promising premise for a decent thriller, does it not? Yet the film is riddled with incongruous plot holes and character motivation that is utterly baffling.
Other than the very first Rocky movie, and possibly Rocky part 2, I don’t think Stallone has the talent for script writing or for creating characters.
As such, I believe Stallone would have had more career success (I am speaking artistically, not financially, as obviously he made a lot of money appearing in many terrible movies), had he stepped back and allowed the professionals around him do what they were best at.
I notice that Stallone’s contemporary competition, Schwarzengger, in some terms, had slightly better quality movies than Stallone during the 1980s.
I’m willing to guess that is so because Schwarzengger didn’t insist on writing or re-writing the scripts of the films he was in.
Bearing in mind I wrote that preceding paragraph before reading further down this page I just referenced (a page which I skipped around while reading), and that author feels as I do:
… Arnold Schwarzenegger was Stallone’s great rival during the 80’s, as they were both targeting the same action orientated audience, but the key and crucial difference was that Schwarzenegger knew that he wasn’t a writer or a director. He knew his talents, as limited as they were, were on the screen.
So Arnold got decent writers to provide his quips and the necessary flavour for his character.
Stallone thought he was an auteur, I’m sure he never thought he was that actually, but he acted like he was.
Cobra really does feel as though he wrote all of the dialogue, because it’s awful.
… While the plot of the film is fairly hackneyed, what takes the film to another level of insanity is the numerous moments in the film that appear to have been added by Stallone to provide ‘flavour’ for his character.
I saw this 2016 headline and thought, maybe Stallone is getting more sensible:
“The reason I didn’t want to write it [Creed movie] is because it’s a whole new generation. Forty years has passed, and what worked in my generation doesn’t exactly work in this generation. Everything’s just changed.”
Stallone deserves praise for being able to take that step back and recognize that he would only be detrimental to the film as its writer.
Instead, he passed the buck onto helmer Ryan Coogler, who Stallone admitted originally approached him with the idea of a story that revolved around Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son.
Early reviews surrounding Creed have been positive…
But then, I saw these 2017 headlines:
So, really, other than the script for the very first Rocky movie, I don’t think Stallone’s strong suit is writing scripts, looking back over his film career from 2017. But he seems insistent on writing scripts for movies, especially ones in which he is acting.
Edit. January 5, 2018.
This story was published in December 2017, but I did not see it until January 2018.
December 12, 2017
Sylvester Stallone is handing over the directorial duties for “Creed 2.”
The 71-year-old actor announced on Monday he will not be directing the upcoming installment of the “Rocky” franchise and tapped Stephen Caple, Jr. as the new director.
This was also in the news recently:
Hard to say if this is unrelated or not to the surfacing of several different sexual assault allegations against the actor that began around fall or winter of 2017.
Continued in Part 2