Paradise Alley (1978)

PG | 110 mins | Drama | 10 November 1978

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HISTORY

Writer-director Sylvester Stallone’s script for Paradise Alley was initially titled Hell’s Kitchen, according to production materials from AMPAS library files. On 18 Apr 1977, DV stated that the script had also been called Pepper Alley and Italian Stallion.
       End credits include a “Special thanks" to Herbert S. Nanas and Jeff Wald.
       Although Frank Stallone, Jr., sings two songs in the dance hall scenes, the titles and composers of those songs have not been determined.
       News items in New Times on 28 Oct 1977 and in HR on 13 Dec 1977, announced that the film was based on Sylvester Stallone’s novel of the same name, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in mid-Nov 1977, and that Stallone would play the undertaker role. However, the original script predated the book’s publication, according to DV, which announced 13 Aug 1976 that Stallone’s first screenplay, Hell’s Kitchen, was in development at Force Ten Productions. It was described then as a film about three brothers who attempt to escape their depressed neighborhood by turning to boxing, not wrestling as the film portrays. The article further reported that Stallone would no longer star in the movie “as originally intended.”
       According to production notes, Sylvester Stallone’s original 1970 script ended tragically with the death of “Victor.” After the release of Rocky (1976, see entry), Stallone wrote a more uplifting ending for Hell’s Kitchen, changing the title in order to appeal to both men and women.
       The picture was the subject of a lawsuit before shooting. As ... More Less

Writer-director Sylvester Stallone’s script for Paradise Alley was initially titled Hell’s Kitchen, according to production materials from AMPAS library files. On 18 Apr 1977, DV stated that the script had also been called Pepper Alley and Italian Stallion.
       End credits include a “Special thanks" to Herbert S. Nanas and Jeff Wald.
       Although Frank Stallone, Jr., sings two songs in the dance hall scenes, the titles and composers of those songs have not been determined.
       News items in New Times on 28 Oct 1977 and in HR on 13 Dec 1977, announced that the film was based on Sylvester Stallone’s novel of the same name, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in mid-Nov 1977, and that Stallone would play the undertaker role. However, the original script predated the book’s publication, according to DV, which announced 13 Aug 1976 that Stallone’s first screenplay, Hell’s Kitchen, was in development at Force Ten Productions. It was described then as a film about three brothers who attempt to escape their depressed neighborhood by turning to boxing, not wrestling as the film portrays. The article further reported that Stallone would no longer star in the movie “as originally intended.”
       According to production notes, Sylvester Stallone’s original 1970 script ended tragically with the death of “Victor.” After the release of Rocky (1976, see entry), Stallone wrote a more uplifting ending for Hell’s Kitchen, changing the title in order to appeal to both men and women.
       The picture was the subject of a lawsuit before shooting. As DV reported on 18 Apr 1977, Paradise Alley producers John F. Roach and Ronald A. Suppa claimed that Rocky was an “outgrowth” of their film and requested $10 million in actual damages and $20 million in punitive damages from defendants United Artists and Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Inc., the distributor and production company of Rocky. According to the suit, Stallone and Force Ten offered Hell’s Kitchen to producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, who read the script and then hired Stallone to write Rocky. The plaintiffs claimed that Rocky used a similar “theme, mood, format, characters, and structure” as Hell’s Kitchen, but Force Ten was not compensated. In a 5 Feb 1978 LAHExam article, Stallone provided a different characterization of the origins of Paradise Alley, recounting that he sold the Hell’s Kitchen script “for a tiny fee” to two producers when he was a struggling actor. According to Stallone, after the success of Rocky, “the pair realized they were sitting on a bonanza. Stallone "paid them off for a sum ‘they [could] retire on,’ [then] took the project to Universal with a new title.” On 2 Dec 1990, LAT published a letter from Ron Suppa that refuted Stallone’s claim that he got his chance at Hollywood success when Chartoff and Winkler bought the Paradise Alley option for $200. Suppa asserted that he and Roach optioned Paradise Alley for $2000, then bought the script for $25,000 and brought the project to the attention of the Chartoff-Winkler team, urging them to make the film and cast Stallone as the prizefighter. Chartoff and Winkler’s decision to pass on Paradise Alley and instead make Rocky with Stallone led to the lawsuit that Suppa and Roach ultimately settled. The Force Ten producers changed the theme of Paradise Alley from boxing to wrestling and recast Stallone as the trainer instead of the fighter to distinguish the film from Rocky.
       Preproduction began May 1977, according to production notes. An article in the 18 Apr 1977 DV mentioned Universal Pictures as the movie’s studio and Box later announced on 6 Jun 1977 that Universal had acquired Hell’s Kitchen and that vice president Peter Saphier would supervise production.
       On 10 Nov 1977, HR reported that Suppa and Roach were prepared to leave the production if Universal didn’t curtail Stallone’s tendency to encroach on other aspects of filmmaking, including “rewriting, casting, restructuring and even retitling” the film.
       Principal photography started 6 Dec 1977 in New York City, where exteriors were shot at the Knickerbocker Ice Company, the setting of Victor’s job; on 80th Street, which doubled for Hell’s Kitchen in the 1940s since the contemporary neighborhood looked too modern; and along the West Side Highway for the scenes that took place on the Hudson River. Production moved to a Universal soundstage in Los Angeles, CA on 19 Dec 1977. Other locations in Los Angeles included the boiler room of the Barclay Hotel, which was used as “Big Glory’s” home; the Golden West Hotel, which doubled as part of “Bunchie’s” hotel; and the Roseland Roof Ballroom, which was the setting for Sticky’s Ballroom.
       While HR reported on 17 Feb 1978 that Paradise Alley completed principal photography nine days ahead of schedule with a fifty-day shoot, studio notes alternately stated production ended 8 Feb 1978, three days ahead of a shoot that was scheduled for forty-seven days.
       Accounts of the film’s cost varied, with DV stating on 13 Aug 1976 that the budget would be $2.2 million, LAHExam reporting on 5 Feb 1978 that the film had a $6 million budget and Var announcing on 26 Apr 1978 that the project cost less than $3 million. Var further stated that Paradise Alley was in post-production at that time. Stallone claimed that he also acted as producer on the film, though he received no onscreen producing credit.
       According to a news item in the 30 Oct 1978 HR, Paradise Alley would open 10 Nov 1978 in Los Angeles at the Plaza Theatre in Westwood and the Pacific Theatre in Hollywood.
       Several reviews, including 2 Oct 1978 Box, 11 Sep 1978 DV and 13 Nov 1978 Time, commented on the thinness of the female roles. Technical aspects such as cinematography and production design were praised in Box, DV, Time, and the 11 Sep 1978 HR. The assessment of the lead performances varied widely. Time found Stallone to be “quite funny” and possessed of “a violent comic vitality,” but said of Assante and Canalito: “their personal metamorphoses are too sketchily written and acted to have any impact.” While the most consistently positive mentions were for Frank McRae’s performance as Big Glory in publications such as Time, DV and the 10 Nov 1978 LAT, Stallone’s direction was praised in DV, which called him “capable . . . with a keen eye for casting,” and in the 15 Nov 1978 Motion Picture Product Digest, which stated Stallone “stage[d] a terrific fight scene.” Such appreciation contrasted sharply with a heavily negative review of the movie in the 10 Nov 1978 NYT, which described Paradise Alley as a “phony, attitudinizing, self-indulgent mess.”
       A full-page advertisement in the 18 Oct 1980 TV Guide announced that the movie was scheduled to air on television for the first time 23 Oct 1980 on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Network. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Jun 1977.
---
Box Office
13 Jun 1977.
---
Box Office
23 Jan 1978.
---
Box Office
2 Oct 1978.
---
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1976
pp. 1-2.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1977
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1978
p. 3, 18.
Films in Review
Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 1978
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1978.
---
Independent Film Journal
Dec 1978.
---
LAHExam
5 Feb 1978
Section E, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
10 Nov 1978
pp. 30-31.
Los Angeles Times
2 Dec 1990.
---
Motion Picture Product Digest
15 Nov 1978
pp. 45-46.
New Times
28 Oct 1977.
---
New York
20 Nov 1978
p. 97.
New York Times
10 Nov 1978
p. 14.
New Yorker
20 Nov 1978.
---
Newsweek
13 Nov 1978
p. 106.
Time
13 Nov 1978.
---
TV Guide
18 Oct 1980
Section A, p. 122
Variety
25 May 1977.
---
Variety
26 Apr 1978
p. 4, 42.
Variety
13 Sep 1978
p. 21.
Vogue
Dec 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Force Ten Production
A Moonblood Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opt eff
MAKEUP
Make-up created by
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Wrestling choreog
Casting
Scr supv
Prod illustrator
Pub coord
Transportation capt
Sculptures by
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
SOURCES
SONGS
"Too Close To Paradise," music by Bill Conti, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and Bruce Roberts, sung by Sylvester Stallone.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Hell's Kitchen
Pepper Alley
Italian Stallion
Release Date:
10 November 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 10 November 1978
Production Date:
6 December 1977--8 February 1978 in New York City and Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 November 1978
Copyright Number:
PA21638
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25325
SYNOPSIS

In 1946, in the Hell’s Kitchen district of New York City, after panhandling and pretending to be blind, Cosmo Carboni is picked up in a truck by his younger brother, Victor, an ice deliveryman. On the way to visit their older brother, Lenny, an injured World War II veteran who works as an embalmer, Cosmo stops to flirt with Annie O’Sherlock and arranges to see her later at the dance hall where she works as a dime-a-dance girl. That night, when Sticky, the dance hall proprietor, chides her for being rude to a customer, Annie retorts that she is getting over a broken heart. Meanwhile, at a bar, Cosmo complains to his brothers that the Carbonis should be more successful. When the bar owner, gangster Stitch Mahon, and his crew come in, Cosmo notices they carry a monkey that belonged to a recently-deceased neighborhood street performer. Cosmo is certain he can make money with the animal and, despite Lenny’s disapproval, arranges an arm wrestling match between his brother Victor and Franky the Thumper, Stitch’s henchman. Cosmo bets $100 against Stitch’s monkey that Victor will win the match. When it looks like Franky will best Victor, Lenny whispers words of encouragement in his brother’s ear and Victor wins the monkey for Cosmo. Afterwards, Victor and his girlfriend discuss their dream of getting a houseboat in New Jersey, though Victor believes he will not have enough money saved for several years. The next day, Cosmo fails to make any money performing on the street with the monkey. When Bunchie, a beautiful blonde, stops by, Cosmo promises to see her later. ... +


In 1946, in the Hell’s Kitchen district of New York City, after panhandling and pretending to be blind, Cosmo Carboni is picked up in a truck by his younger brother, Victor, an ice deliveryman. On the way to visit their older brother, Lenny, an injured World War II veteran who works as an embalmer, Cosmo stops to flirt with Annie O’Sherlock and arranges to see her later at the dance hall where she works as a dime-a-dance girl. That night, when Sticky, the dance hall proprietor, chides her for being rude to a customer, Annie retorts that she is getting over a broken heart. Meanwhile, at a bar, Cosmo complains to his brothers that the Carbonis should be more successful. When the bar owner, gangster Stitch Mahon, and his crew come in, Cosmo notices they carry a monkey that belonged to a recently-deceased neighborhood street performer. Cosmo is certain he can make money with the animal and, despite Lenny’s disapproval, arranges an arm wrestling match between his brother Victor and Franky the Thumper, Stitch’s henchman. Cosmo bets $100 against Stitch’s monkey that Victor will win the match. When it looks like Franky will best Victor, Lenny whispers words of encouragement in his brother’s ear and Victor wins the monkey for Cosmo. Afterwards, Victor and his girlfriend discuss their dream of getting a houseboat in New Jersey, though Victor believes he will not have enough money saved for several years. The next day, Cosmo fails to make any money performing on the street with the monkey. When Bunchie, a beautiful blonde, stops by, Cosmo promises to see her later. That night, as he dances with Annie at the ballroom, she exchanges a meaningful glance with Lenny, her former boyfriend. Cosmo leaves to visit Bunchie, whom he has been meeting for three years. Bunchie feels she, not Annie, is the one who really understands him. Cosmo scoffs that because Bunchie is a prostitute, she cannot grasp his desire for a real relationship. Later, Cosmo takes Lenny to a private club called Paradise Alley where they learn that anyone who can go one round with a wrestler named Big Glory will win $100. Cosmo convinces Victor to wrestle Big Glory. After Cosmo introduces him as “Kid Salami,” Victor steps into the ring, beats Big Glory and wins the prize money. After the bout, Lenny argues that it is wrong for Cosmo to take advantage of Victor. Cosmo reminds his older brother that Lenny once had brains and ambition but after injuring his leg in the war, he now has nothing. Cosmo is determined to do whatever necessary to get out of the Hell’s Kitchen district. Lenny goes to Sticky’s Ballroom to see Annie and apologizes for not contacting her but did not want to be pitied by her. Annie argues that she never cared about his injury and she does not want him back because she is worried that he will leave her again. As Lenny walks Annie home, he tries to convince her they should resume their relationship. Annie relents and kisses him. Later that night, Cosmo stops by Annie’s home and sees Lenny in bed with her. In the morning, after Lenny leaves, Cosmo accuses Annie of leading him on. She denies the accusation but admits she has always loved Lenny and is happy to be back with him. Cosmo visits Bunchie, who urges him to forget Annie and focus on his relationship with her because she loves him. Later, Cosmo tries to persuade Victor to wrestle full time, pointing out that his brother can make money much faster as a wrestler. The two go to Paradise Alley where Cosmo hopes Big Glory can convince Victor to wrestle. They find him living in the basement where he talks to them about his plans and prospects. The wrestler advises Victor to get a manager he can trust. After the brothers leave, Victor asks Lenny for advice. Lenny does not like the idea of Victor wrestling but agrees to help him if Victor decides to do it. Victor realizes he will never make enough money in the ice business to buy his houseboat and consents to try wrestling professionally. Cosmo trains Victor, and Lenny agrees to handle the business. Cosmo expresses his sense of betrayal that Lenny has reunited with Annie and they agree that they are now just business partners instead of brothers. When Lenny tries to set up a wrestling match at Paradise Alley, the proprietor informs him that first Victor has to make a name for himself and inspire spectators to bet large sums on him by fighting established wrestlers. Lenny assures the man his brother can win fifty fights by Christmas. As Victor starts winning matches and money, Cosmo worries that he will get injured, but Lenny pushes Victor to continue wrestling. Meanwhile, Annie frets that Lenny is allowing the wrestling business to take him away from her. On Christmas Eve, Victor asks Lenny how much money they have, but Lenny only urges Victor to trust him. Later, Lenny visits Annie briefly, claiming he has to leave right away for business. She accuses him of cheating and they end their romance. Elsewhere, Cosmo exchanges Christmas gifts with Bunchie, then leaves for Paradise Alley. He visits Big Glory, who is badly beaten after fighting Franky the Thumper. The two get drunk and drive to Stitch’s bar where Glory pulls down his pants and “moons” Stitch and Franky. Cosmo and Glory then drive to the Hudson River where Glory admits he has no money and knows his career is over. After the fun night that Cosmo has shown him, Glory finally feels happy and is ready to jump in the river. When Cosmo tries to talk him out of committing suicide, the wrestler urges him to think carefully about the high cost of wrestling, then jumps into the river. In the morning, Cosmo reunites with his brothers and, mindful of Big Glory’s fate, urges Victor to quit wrestling. In response, Lenny promises to set up a match with Franky that, if he wins, will make it possible for Victor to achieve his dreams. Cosmo cautions Victor against doing it, but Victor wants money for the houseboat. Victor and Cosmo and arrange with Stitch a match between Victor and Franky, with the Carbonis betting the $9000 they have made on Victor to win. As the fight begins that night at Paradise Alley, Lenny urges Victor to win but Cosmo lets Victor know he can still back out. Victor thinks Cosmo should be proud, since he was the one who pushed him into wrestling. Throughout the match, Lenny and Cosmo squabble on the sidelines. Between rounds, Victor asks his brothers to stop arguing. After twenty-two rounds, Victor crumples to the mat and Stitch pressures the referee to call the match for Franky. However, when Stitch’s men hassle Lenny and Cosmo, Victor revives and pulls them off his brothers. Fighting resumes and Victor is declared the eventual winner. However, he admits to Lenny and Cosmo he was planning to throw the match and lose their money because he liked it better when it was just the three of them.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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