The Ultimate Stallone Reader

The Ultimate Stallone Reader: Sylvester Stallone as Star, Icon, Auteur

EDITED BY CHRIS HOLMLUND
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/holm16980
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  • Book Info
    The Ultimate Stallone Reader
    Book Description:

    Sylvester Stallone has been a defining part of American film for nearly four decades. He has made an impact on world entertainment in a surprisingly diverse range of capacities -- as actor, writer, producer, and director -- all while maintaining a monolithic presence. WithThe Ultimate Stallone Reader, this icon finally receives concerted academic attention. Eleven original essays by internationally-known scholars examine Stallone's contributions to mainstream cinema, independent film, and television. This volume also offers innovative approaches to star, gender, and celebrity studies, performance analysis, genre criticism, industry and reception inquiry, and the question of what it means to be an auteur. Ultimately,The Ultimate Stallone Readerinvestigates the place that Sylvester Stallone occupies within an industry and a culture that have both undergone much evolution, and how his work has reflected and even driven these changes.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85064-3
    Subjects: Film Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: PRESENTING STALLONE/STALLONE PRESENTS
    (pp. 1-26)
    CHRIS HOLMLUND

    A Somali pirate ship, shrouded in darkness. Elite mercenaries slip aboard to rescue a group of hostages. Flashes of red, purple and blue shine on weapons and illuminate muscles. Intent on the task at hand, these men nonetheless find time to joke. ‘A little low’, says one, as a pirate is literally blown in half by fire from another’s massive gun. In the flickering light, some of the biggest names in action materialise: Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham. Ultimate fighter Randy Couture and former NFL star Terry Crews are also part of the titular team ofThe...

  6. STAYING ALIVE: STALLONE, AUTHORSHIP AND CONTEMPORARY HOLLYWOOD AESTHETICS
    (pp. 27-52)
    PAUL RAMAEKER

    Sylvester Stallone’s status as an icon of contemporary Hollywood cinema has long been secure thanks to the mythic stature of Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, but his iconicity is as a star rather than a filmmaker. His filmography lists over fifty acting credits, certainly, but also over twenty writing credits, a fact rarely acknowledged outside of apocryphal tales ofRocky’s creation. His directing has not been taken into account at all, though as of 2013 he had directed eight feature films over more than three decades, albeit with an unusual chronological distribution: a 21-year gap separatesRocky IV, in 1985,...

  7. LOGIC IS THE CURE, MEET THE DISEASE: THE MELOS OF COBRA
    (pp. 53-74)
    SCOTT HIGGINS

    Cobra(1986) refines and concentrates the early 1980s action film, boiling the genre down to its melodramatic essence. As scripted by Sylvester Stallone and directed by George Cosmatos, few films better exemplify the genre which, according to Eric Lichtenfeld, repurposed the police procedural by emphasising punishment over investigation (2007: 4). From its eponymous title to its casting,Cobracelebrates its debt toDirty Harry, which helped launch the genre in 1971. Stallone invoked Clint Eastwood’s aura to gain credibility in the action-cop subgenre, hoping to launch a popular franchise. Stallone muscles conventions put into play fifteen years earlier to shoulder...

  8. I, OF THE TIGER: SELF AND SELF-OBSESSION IN THE ROCKY SERIES
    (pp. 75-96)
    ERIC LICHTENFELD

    There is a tale Sylvester Stallone was fond of telling. It is 1975 and Stallone, an aspiring writer and actor, is nearly broke. For his 29th birthday, he gives himself permission to finally write what appeals to him: stories of heroism and triumph – the kind of screenwriting that the New Hollywood had largely displaced. With the last of his entertainment money, he watches a closed-circuit broadcast of ranked but little regarded Chuck Wepner virtually going the distance with heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. Stallone sees how the unknown’s resolve invigorates the audience. And Rocky Balboa is conceived (see United Artists 1976:...

  9. STALLONE AND HOLLYWOOD IN TRANSITION
    (pp. 97-120)
    MARK GALLAGHER

    Sylvester Stallone has been widely understood as the embodiment of 1980s Hollywood action cinema and of Reagan-era heroic masculinity. Perhaps surprisingly, though, few scholars have devoted attention to the films in which he appeared at the outset of the decade. This essay concentrates on two films in which he starred in the spring and summer of 1981:Nighthawks, released in the US in early April, andVictory, with wide release in the US in late July.

    Stallone has received much attention as a solitary ‘tentpole star’. However, his film roles have repeatedly depended on his affiliation with or differentiation from...

  10. ADVENTURES IN ACTING: STALLONE THE PERFORMER
    (pp. 121-146)
    CHRIS HOLMLUND

    What to make of Stallone’s adventures in acting? What to make of how they arevalued, when action films are often dismissed by critics even though – indeed, because – they are popular with audiences and beloved by fans. Is this why most of Stallone’sperformanceshave not yet been studied? To date only his work inCop Land(1997), playing opposite revered Method actors Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta, has received sustained academic attention, by Rachel Adams (1999) and, in this anthology, also by Paul McDonald.

    And/or is the lack of attention attributable to the fact that ‘you...

  11. STALLONE’S STOMACH: COP LAND AND THE WEIGHT OF ACTORLY LEGITIMISATION
    (pp. 147-170)
    PAUL McDONALD

    Since 1981 the Golden Raspberry Awards or ‘Razzies’ have operated as an alternative index of cultural value. Unlike the Academy Awards, which celebrate the highest accomplishments in film over the previous year, the Razzies dishonour achievements in various categories including acting, directing and writing. For his performance inRhinestone(1984), Stallone won the 1984 Razzie for Worst Actor. In the following year Stallone picked up the same award for his performances inRambo: First Blood Part II(1985) andRocky IV(1985). After further wins forRambo III(1988) andStop! Or My Mom Will Shoot(1992), and nine other...

  12. THE ROCKY EFFECT: SYLVESTER STALLONE AS SPORT HERO
    (pp. 171-196)
    ALEXANDRA KELLER and FRAZER WARD

    Sylvester Stallone’s career is bound to heroes defined by sport. More than any other action star, Stallone has articulated his persona by embodying athletes. His sport roles include manager of a wrestling brother (Paradise Alley, 1978), soccer goalkeeper (Victory, 1981), arm-wrestler (Over the Top, 1986), mountain climber (Cliffhanger, 1993) and racecar driver (Driven, 2001). Stallone’s investment is clear: these are among the movies that Stallone has not only starred in, but also (exceptVictory) written, and often directed. All inevitably funnel through his performance as boxer Rocky Balboa. Only John Rambo is as vital to Stallone’s career and identity.

    Audiences’...

  13. ‘WHO WOULDN’T WANT A BODY LIKE THAT?’: MASCULINITY, MUSCULARITY AND MALE AUDIENCES FOR THE FILMS OF SYLVESTER STALLONE
    (pp. 197-216)
    IAN HUFFER

    This essay examines the ways in which male audiences view Sylvester Stallone’s body in relation to masculinity and how this is intersected by other aspects of identity, such as social class, sexuality and age. Stallone’s muscles have been central to analysis of the social/cultural construction of masculinity in the star’s films, symbolising ‘the triumphal assertion of a traditional masculinity, defined through strength’ and/or a ‘hysterical image … of the male body (and masculine identity) in crisis’ (Tasker 1993: 109).¹ However, this relationship between masculinity and the star’s physique has been under-explored inaudienceled approaches to the star, with neither...

  14. SYLVESTER STALLONE AND JOHN RAMBO’S TREK ACROSS ASIA: POLITICS, PERFORMANCE AND AMERICAN EMPIRE
    (pp. 217-240)
    GINA MARCHETTI

    Stallone’s John J. Rambo emerged out of Ronald Reagan’s America with an axe to grind in Asia in the aftermath of America’s war in Vietnam. Both Stallone the star and Rambo the character are contradictory manifestations of fantasies that chronicle nearly thirty years of American imperial ambitions in Asia. Although Edward Said was speaking of ‘European culture’, the American character Rambo, too, ‘gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate or even underground self’ (1978: 3). As with all manifestations of Orientalism, ‘none of this Orient is merely imaginative’ (1978: 2),...

  15. STALLONE, AGEING AND ACTION AUTHENTICITY
    (pp. 241-262)
    YVONNE TASKER

    The underdog, violence, and the body as both a site of subjection and a possible locus of resistance are all tropes central to Stallone’s movie roles. These elements are played out most obviously in Stallone’s status as an action star, rather than in his comedic or dramatic roles. And it is particularly with action, and the ageing body in action, that I am concerned here, responding amongst other things to the late career revival of the characters of Rocky inRocky Balboa(2006) and John Rambo inRambo(2008).

    Reviews and promotional interviews for both films emphasised the star body...

  16. FILMOGRAPHY SYLVESTER STALLONE
    (pp. 263-276)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 277-290)