Paradise Alley 1978 ****


Sylvester Stallone’s career has been peppered with throwbacks; whether with Rocky, Rambo or The Expendables, he can’t let a franchise idea go. He probably learned a lesson from his directorial debut, in which he reprises the underdog story of Rocky but with a novel twist; he plays Cosmo Carboni who, together with his brother Lenny (Armand Assante) is working the wresting circuit in hell’s Kitchen circa 1946. They’re pot of gold is brother Victor (Lee Canalito), who is making it big in the ring, but the brother’s friendship is tested by the potential success. Stallone loves a good montage;  scenes of carrying large blocks of ice up flights of stairs replace the running montages of Rocky. But Paradise Alley is more complex than most sports movies, looking into the motivations of the characters looking to make a packet; Damon Runyon-esque moments where Stallone is struggling to get his dancing monkey to perform are emblematic of the problems of aspiring dreamers whose ideas exceed their grasp.


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