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Old Yesterday, 01:29 AM
Little Nemo is offline
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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 Yesterday, 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 Yesterday, 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 Yesterday, 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 Yesterday, 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.

Quote:
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 Yesterday, 02:47 PM
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didnt Roger Corman give him his first major role in death race 2000?

Last edited by nightshadea; Yesterday at 02:49 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
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 Yesterday, 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 Yesterday, 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 Yesterday, 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 Today, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by nightshadea View Post
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 Today, 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; Today at 01:55 AM.
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Old Today, 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 Today, 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 Today, 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 Today, 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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