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Old 09-16-2019, 01:29 AM
Little Nemo is online now
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Sylvester Stallone's early movie career


I was looking up the cast of MASH (the movie) for another thread and I was surprised to see that Sylvester Stallone was in that movie. He was an uncredited extra as a soldier.

I checked his filmography and I see that Stallone appeared as an uncredited extra in several movies before he began to get significant roles.

Downhill Racer (1969)
MASH (1970)
Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker (1970)
Bananas (1971)
Klute (1971)
What's Up, Doc? (1972)

The thing that interested me was that, with the exception of The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker, these are all well regarded movies. Movies that people are still watching five decades later. And even Pigeons was probably considered a good movie back in its day. Stallone may have been an extra in the background but he wasn't doing it in cheap forgotten films. (Okay, he also appeared in The Party at Kitty and Stud's during this period but that was the only exception.)

This was before Stallone was a star or even a known actor. But he seems to have stumbled on to walk-on parts in a number of really good films. Was he just lucky or was there some reason?
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Old 09-16-2019, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Was he just lucky or was there some reason?
He was a good actor and ambitious?

People sometimes forget he wrote Rocky, and pushed to star in it, and the PTB approved because he was seen as worth the risk. Reviews at the time likened him to the young Brando. All of that would have been evident before than, probably.
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Old 09-16-2019, 06:56 AM
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I don't recall seeing him in most of the films on the OP's list, which wouldn't be surprising for an extra. But he REALLY stands out in Bananas, where he [plays a thug that goes after Woody Allen's character in a New York Subway. You get a full-screen head-on shot of him that's hard to miss -- he's not some random face in the background.

When the movie came out in '72, nobody knew who Stallone was, so it was no big deal. But four years later, after the success of Rocky (with all those movie stills and posters with his face on them, besides the movie itself, of course), you couldn't miss him when they showed Bananas in revivals, and the audience always reacted when they saw him.
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:31 AM
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I have to bring up Stallone's first "starring role" in 1970's The Party at Kitty and Stud's, an incredibly bad soft core porn movie. He worked two days and was paid $200.

He was also the inspiration for this exchange between Mike Seaver and his best friend "Boner" (real name Richard Stabone).

Mike: So your mother says to your father.....What is your father's first name?
Boner: Sylvester
Mike: So your mother says to your father Sylvester......Wait a minute? Your father's name is Sylvester Stabone?"
Boner: Who knew?
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:43 PM
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He was a good actor and ambitious?
Like several hundred other actors in New York City.

Most actors, even ones who go on to great success, start out with a string of bad credits. It's paying your dues. You appear in cheap drive-in movies or direct-to-video movies or whatever the modern equivalent is. You get some credits in a few TV series. Maybe you get a role in a soap opera. Maybe you work on the stage and build up an acting reputation in regional theater. Maybe you get a different job working on movie sets and you're handy when the director wants an extra to appear on camera.

But Stallone seems to have mostly avoided this. For some reason, he was able to start out in quality movies. Not just once or twice, which might happen by luck. He had a string of good credits.

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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
People sometimes forget he wrote Rocky, and pushed to star in it, and the PTB approved because he was seen as worth the risk. Reviews at the time likened him to the young Brando. All of that would have been evident before than, probably.
This was all before he made Rocky. This was back when Stallone was a complete unknown off the street.
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:47 PM
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didnt Roger Corman give him his first major role in death race 2000?

Last edited by nightshadea; 09-16-2019 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
He was a good actor and ambitious?

People sometimes forget he wrote Rocky, and pushed to star in it, and the PTB approved because he was seen as worth the risk. Reviews at the time likened him to the young Brando. All of that would have been evident before than, probably.
Iím not entirely in agreement that I personally saw him as a young Brandon but I definitely think he was an actor who had something about him.

As you say he wrote Rocky and for me he was great in the lead roll, he made the film(s) his own.

I still enjoy watching him in Rocky and my 84 yr old grandad loves the Rambo films which Iíll also happily sit and enjoy watching with him.
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Old 09-16-2019, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Like several hundred other actors in New York City.
Those actors weren't getting their own movies made. So clearly no, they were not as ambitious.
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But Stallone seems to have mostly avoided this. For some reason, he was able to start out in quality movies.
Not according to his bio - he had a while of not getting any roles. Then Party @, which was not quality.

And someone has to do the bit roles in quality movies. So I don't get the puzzlement.
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This was all before he made Rocky.
Yes, you can tell I know this was before by the way I said " All of that would have been evident before than"[sic]
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This was back when Stallone was a complete unknown off the street.
Clearly he wasn't a complete unknown. He'd been on the New York acting scene for a couple years by then, and he had certain distinctive physical characteristics that would make him stand out from the generic wannabes.
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Old 09-16-2019, 04:47 PM
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Clearly Bananas also boosted Howard Cosell's career. Only did a few fights before that. Afterwards he was everywhere!
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:41 PM
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I remember him getting mugged by Jack Lemmon in one of those early movies.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:51 AM
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didnt Roger Corman give him his first major role in death race 2000?
No, that was in 1975. Stallone's first major role was in The Lords of Flatbush which was a year earlier. Stallone also had a significant part in Capone (he played Frank Nitti) which came out between The Lords of Flatbush and Death Race 2000.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:54 AM
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I remember him getting mugged by Jack Lemmon in one of those early movies.
That was The Prisoner of Second Avenue (after The Lords of Flatbush and before Capone).

Last edited by Little Nemo; 09-17-2019 at 01:55 AM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
People sometimes forget he wrote Rocky, and pushed to star in it, and the PTB approved because he was seen as worth the risk. Reviews at the time likened him to the young Brando. All of that would have been evident before than, probably.
Huh?

Everything I have ever heard about Rocky says that the PTB most definitely did not want Stallone to star in it, and that the only reason he was able to do so was because he wrote it and resolutely refused to sell the screenplay unless he was cast as the star.

Your post makes it sound like they saw the potential in this young guy and decided to take a chance, when they didn't see a young Brando at all, they just really, really wanted the screenplay.
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:18 AM
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Huh?

Everything I have ever heard about Rocky says that the PTB most definitely did not want Stallone to star in it, and that the only reason he was able to do so was because he wrote it and resolutely refused to sell the screenplay unless he was cast as the star.
Yes, that's what I mean - worth the risk on his acting, based on his writing. They initially wanted a star, but they took the risk anyway, and they wouldn't have done that if there was nothing there, they couldn't be that hard-up for scripts.
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Your post makes it sound like they saw the potential in this young guy and decided to take a chance
That would be what I mean by "worth the risk" - "decided to take a chance" is just a restatement of the same thing.
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, when they didn't see a young Brando at all, they just really, really wanted the screenplay.
No, the "young Brando" quote comes from after, but I'm saying they probably saw the potential before - The Lords of Flatbush was quite the indie hit.
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:29 AM
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Plus, young Stallone was a good-looking guy, which doubtless factored into things.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:44 AM
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The big jump though is going from being an extra to getting your SAG card.

One guy said he did it when he was an extra and they at the last minute told him to tell a line to the main actor as he walked by, which made it a speaking role so he got his card.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:52 PM
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The great majority of movies filmed don't get released or listed in IMDB. I'm confident Stallone was in a few of those, too. I'm just surprised he didn't have more of a TV career, just a couple episodes of Kojak and Police Story.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:55 PM
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He does have a limited range as an actor. But, so have many stars -- Michael J. Fox spent his whole career playing Alex Keaton: Alex Keaton travels through time, Alex Keaton serves in Vietnam, Alex Keaton moves to New York and does lots of drugs . . .
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:27 AM
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The great majority of movies filmed don't get released or listed in IMDB. I'm confident Stallone was in a few of those, too. I'm just surprised he didn't have more of a TV career, just a couple episodes of Kojak and Police Story.
That's poppycock. In fact, 99.9% of movies that have ever been filmed have indeed been released and are listed on IMDb.
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:17 AM
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That's poppycock. In fact, 99.9% of movies that have ever been filmed have indeed been released and are listed on IMDb.
And that's way, way too extreme going the other way.

There are a surprising number of films sitting on the shelf, never released. All sorts of bad things happen. Test audiences hate it. There's a new studio chief and they hate the previous one so a bunch of films are "forgotten". Some rights issue pops up. The film was made with no intention of releasing it in order to satisfy some contract. And on and on.

Hardly the majority of all films made but a significantly larger number than 0.1%.
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:00 AM
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He does have a limited range as an actor. But, so have many stars -- Michael J. Fox spent his whole career playing Alex Keaton: Alex Keaton travels through time, Alex Keaton serves in Vietnam, Alex Keaton moves to New York and does lots of drugs . . .
It's called "character acting" and a lot of actors do it. The audience is fully aware they are watching Michael J. Fox.

The truly greats can play a range. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks come to mind.
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Old 09-19-2019, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I was looking up the cast of MASH (the movie) for another thread and I was surprised to see that Sylvester Stallone was in that movie. He was an uncredited extra as a soldier.

I checked his filmography and I see that Stallone appeared as an uncredited extra in several movies before he began to get significant roles.

Downhill Racer (1969)
MASH (1970)
Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
*The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker (1970)
*Bananas (1971)
Klute (1971)
What's Up, Doc? (1972)
[snip]
I don't know what your source was for these movies, but IMDB lists only the ones I've marked with an asterisk. That doesn't mean that he wasn't in those other movies, just that the editors at IMDB haven't been convinced of his involvement. Usually that's because there wasn't a clear enough image of the person supposed to be him that passed muster in their opinion. There's a press release from "Downhill Racer" listing his name, and Elliott Gould said that Stallone told him he was an extra in M*A*S*H, but apparently that wasn't good enough. I'll check out the others next time they're on TCM.

The IMDB editors can sometimes be somewhat haphazard in their standards of proof. They accept Ben Affleck's and Matt Damon's accounts of being in the crowd at Fenway Park in "Field of Dreams"--but even if they are, you'll never find them. So they should not be listed, in my opinion. But Stuart Whitman said that he and James Dean were extras in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (as well as Jonathan "Dr. Smith" Harris), but they are not listed--and I've never been able to spot them.
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Old 09-20-2019, 03:03 AM
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That's poppycock. In fact, 99.9% of movies that have ever been filmed have indeed been released and are listed on IMDb.
I highly doubt that. Bollywood and Nollywood churn out several films a day.
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:07 AM
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It would be fairly easy to rack up a string of extra roles in quality movies, IMHO. You just go to casting calls for extras for quality movies. It has nothing to do with being an ambitious actor. I've been in a couple big budget movies as an extra and stand in for a famous actor. I've never acted. And I've never appeared in anything low budget. I just showed up and fit a look. I turned down the chance to travel to the next city with the first movie because I was in school at the time. Maybe one of my few regrets in life (because of the experience but not any delusions of becoming a movie star). I have a friend who lives in L.A. and has a regular job and some side businesses. For quite some time he was a professional extra and even had an agent. He had a certain look and ended up in a string of movies that may not have been Academy Awards level productions but all featured known stars and directors. He didn't have a passion for acting and making art. He showed up to stand in the background and get his 100 bucks a day or whatever it was at the time.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:38 AM
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Everything I have ever heard about Rocky says that the PTB most definitely did not want Stallone to star in it, and that the only reason he was able to do so was because he wrote it and resolutely refused to sell the screenplay unless he was cast as the star.
Yes.

On the 25th anniversary DVD, he says they offered him $50,000 for the screenplay. That was a lot of money in 1976 to a struggling actor with a wife and baby, so it was tough for him to turn down. They began raising the offer, making it increasingly tempting for him to accept. But when the offer reached a certain amount in six figures, he realized that if they wanted the screenplay that badly, he actually had the upper hand. So it became easier to resist selling the screenplay outright, and to insist that he be cast as Rocky.

Incidentally, one of the bankable stars the producers were considering for the lead was Ryan O'Neal. He was certainly athletic enough to be credible as a boxer. But a 200% Italian South Philly boxer? It's a reminder of what a different era it was, when they cast Charlton Heston as Michelangelo, and John Wayne as Genghis Khan. Come to think of it, casting a guy who looked like Sylvester Stallone as a leading man (and not changing his name to something short and WASPy) in a big-time film was kind of ground-breaking.

Another interesting thing from that DVD which I found kind of surprising: Sly, whose name later became synonymous with being fit and muscular, was anything but when he began work as Rocky. They (director Avildsen IIRC) viewed test footage and told him to lose some weight before actual filming began.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:42 AM
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That's poppycock. In fact, 99.9% of movies that have ever been filmed have indeed been released and are listed on IMDb.
I didn't say all studio films. For every studio film released, there are maybe a hundred independent films that are shot and go nowhere. And more studio films than you'd suspect fail to find distribution.
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Old 09-28-2019, 12:49 PM
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Hello, Little Nemo.

You probably won't know this, but it was me who found Stallone in all of those movies you posted about, but I'll never be helping the people who run IMDb ever again. If you go on Google, you can find a lot of links where I complained about how stupid the staff on IMDb are.

I basically came across a reputable site that is run by a fan, where he had posted a blog entry regarding a section of a page, taken from a book to do with a play Stallone acted in before he became famous, and it mentioned some films he was in, but it just said he could 'be seen' in them. That was all it said, along with the titles of six films, but I cannot get any information for one of them. So I watched Downhill Racer online, and I noticed he was sitting in a restaurant, near Robert Redford. So they added it to his page. After that, some trolls on the IMDb related message boards made out that it wasn't him. They said it didn't resemble him, and I got accused of starting rumours. Blah. Blah. Blah. They must have just edited it off of his filmography. He's not even out of focus, but you only see the side of his face. Also, Stallone was a student in Leysin during 1969, and the film was partially shot in Switzerland.

http://www.stallonezone.com/main/197...ly-scores.html

I also found him in MASH. Again, all I did was find this information online, already public knowledge, because Elliott Gould mentioned that he met Stallone once, and he said to Gould that he was an extra in the movie. He didn't mention the scene that he is in specifically, but he said it was a scene where the surgeons were cutting time for lunch. I ended up watching the film. In fact, where he appears is in the scene where the guy with glasses first meets Donald Sutherland's character, in a catering tent. I don't remember the guy's name, but he is wearing a cap as well, and he walks over to Donald Sutherland. You can see Stallone in that scene for about 2 seconds.

https://www.metro.us/entertainment/e...--54taKVRVb6Ig

I'm also sure I spotted him in What's Up, Doc?, because again, I read something online about him being an extra in a movie with Ryan O'Neal. Although the name of the movie wasn't mentioned. So I just looked up what films Ryan O'Neal was in during 1971. You don't go by the release date, but the production date. I just happened to see somebody that looked way liked him walking by briefly in the background, although the extras looked too blurry to identify.

Even after showing all of this proof to those in charge of IMDb on their GetSatisfaction (customer service) forums, they said they couldn't add these uncredited parts. I just gave up bothering after a while. But I said to myself that posting info to help people may as well be a lost cause.

The film you also posted about called The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker is hard to find, but he had a small role as a party goer. I have it on DVD. I got it on Amazon back in 2015, and it came in a white case. The film's title is just Pigeons, though.

https://archive.org/details/Stallone_Downhill_Racer

https://archive.org/details/Stallone_MASH

https://archive.org/details/Stallone_Pigeons

https://archive.org/details/Stallone_Whats_Up_Doc

He also plays one of the wedding guests in this film called Lovers and Other Strangers, that was made in 1970. Enjoy the clips!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz4qKBUkTPc
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