- Movie Rating -

Paradise Alley (1978)

| September 22, 1978

No one would blame Sylvester Stallone for wanting to follow-up a great character study like Rocky with another film that is specifically geographical and provides great characters.  But in his first writing job since Rocky he went admittedly overboard.  With Paradise Alley he included all of the ingredience but he left out the restraint and the subtlety.

Perhaps that has to do with his clout.  Since the earlier film won Best Picture, he seemed to have been given complete autonomy and that may  not be such a good thing.  With Paradise Alley, he wrote it, directed it, stars in it, and even sings (rather badly) the film’s opening song.  He even brings in Bill Conti and Rocky co-star Joe Spinell.

The result is entertaining but also kind of a mess.  The setting is Hell’s Kitchen in the late 1940s and the focus is on three Italian-American brothers and their various destinies.  They are the Carboni brothers, led by Cosmo (Stallone) who is a fast-buck artist, a street hustler who works the streets to keep from getting a real job.  His younger brother is Lenny (Armand Assante) a wounded veteran, both mentally and physically, who works as an undertaker.  And the youngest is the gentle giant Lenny (Lee Canalito), who lugs ice for a living.

As you might imagine, there are a lot of meanwhiles in this movie.  Cosmo is a hustler, meanwhile he is trying to court Lenny former girlfriend Annie (Anne Archer).  Meanwhile, Cosmo constantly runs afoul of a local mobster named Stitch (Kevin Conway).  Meanwhile, Lenny wants to get back together with Annie.  Meanwhile, Cosmo wants to turn his brother into a professional wrestler.  Meanwhile, he makes friends with a washed up former wrester named Big Glory (Frank McRae).

The heart is in this film, but it’s all too much.  Too much cornball stuff.  Too many characters.  Too little subtlety.  Too much plot.  Much too much.  One admires Stallone for giving the film a heartbeat (if not a phony happy ending) but after a while you want him to stop story-telling and just let the movie breathe.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1978) View IMDB Filed in: Drama