Three Italian-American brothers, living in the slums of 1940's New York City, try to help each other with one's wrestling career using one brother's promotional skills and another brother's con-artist tactics to thwart a sleazy manager.
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It's 1946 in Hell's Kitchen in New York City. Cosmo Carboni, the eldest of the three Carboni brothers, is lamenting what he sees as them not living up to their potential. Big talking Cosmo hustles and panhandles for money. Brooding Lenny Carboni, an injured veteran whose sullen attitude stems from his time in the war, is an undertaker. And youngest Victor Carboni, the simple muscle-man who wouldn't hurt a fly unless he's annoyed, is an iceman. Victor looks to Lenny and his Chinese-American girlfriend Susan Chow as his voices of reason. After Victor holds his own against wrestler Frankie the Thumper in an arm wrestling match, Frankie who is seen as the strongest man in the neighborhood, and after seeing the lucrative wrestling matches - which are more like street fights without rules - at the underground nightclub called Paradise Alley, Cosmo gets it into his head that wrestling may be Victor's calling and a way for them all to get out of Hell's Kitchen for good. The brothers would act...Written by
In an interview with Roger Ebert in 1980, Stallone mentioned that Paradise Alley was originally much longer film before he was forced by Universal Pictures to cut it down. Stallone said; ""I'll never forgive myself for the way I allowed myself to be manipulated during the editing of that film. There were a lot of scenes in there to give atmosphere and character, and they wanted them out just to speed things along. They removed forty scenes, altogether. I put ten of them back in for the version shown on television. For example, the whole sequence of the soldier without legs, sitting on a bar eating peanuts." Same type of studio interference and forced big cuts on the film also happened to the next movie he made for Universal, Nighthawks (1981). See more »
In the opening scene, Stallone mentions that they have to jump across 10 roof tops to win the $5 prize that is on the tenth rooftop. During the opening credits, Stallone jumps exactly 14 times to reach the final rooftop. See more »
Funny and highly underrated (but where's the DVD?)
Probably Stallone's most under valued work, this film reminds the viewer just what talent he had behind the camera (see also Rocky II to IV). The story follows the three Carboni brothers in 1940s New York, as they each try to make their way through life in the slums of Hells Kitchen. Cosmo (Stallone) plans to turn his tough but dim brother Victor into a champion wrestler, and with the help of their third brother (Assante) they set about making their fortune. There are echoes of Rocky throughout the film, (small time nobody becomes admired champion), but what sets it apart is the humour. There are great lines throughout the film delivered with dead pan perfection from the mostly excellent cast, which also includes Stallone regular Joe Spinell. If you can make it through the hilariously bad opening number (sung by Stallone himself), there's plenty here to appreciate. This film is long overdue a release on DVD... come on Universal, how about it?
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