Paradise Alley (1978)

“Do you know how many men could’ve been sitting on top of the world, but they let a dame tell them what to do and the only thing they ended up sitting on top of was a toilet.” Although I love the original Rocky, if given the opportunity to watch ANY Rocky sequel or Paradise Alley, I will choose this low-key comedy-drama about professional wrestling every time. Okay, so you can file this one under “Guilty Pleasure.” Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, Paradise Alley takes place in the poverty-stricken Hell’s Kitchen’s area of New York City in 1946 and focuses on the three Carboni brothers – con artist “Cosmo” (Stallone); bitter, injured war hero and undertaker “Lenny” (Armand Assante); and young, dumb and brawny “Victor” (Lee Canalito). Desperate to improve their lot in life, Cosmo and Lenny hatch a scheme to get Victor involved in the sleazy world of professional wrestling as new sensation “Kid Salami.” The great supporting cast includes Anne Archer as “Annie,” Joe Spinell as “Burp,” Frank McRae as “Big Glory,” Kevin Conway as “Stitch” and pro wrestling legend Terry Funk as “Frankie the Thumper.” Believe it or not, Stallone also sings the theme song, “Too Close to Paradise”—“Too close to paradise and too close to hell/And sometimes the difference is too hard to tell …” The film’s working title was reportedly Hell’s Kitchen. Paradise Alley features the film debut of Tom Waits (as “Mumbles”). Waits also contributed two songs to the film’s soundtrack: “(Meet Me in) Paradise Alley” and “Annie’s Back in Town.”

Leave a Reply

Close Menu