Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Sylvester Stallone Played Against Type Alongside Henry Winkler in Early Film Role

Sylvester Stallone Played Against Type Alongside Henry Winkler in Early Film Role

Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler happened to cross paths in 1974, which was at the edge of their future success. Both men, along with Perry King and Paul Mace, star in The Lords of Flatbush.

Now, this movie is set in the 1950s, which was undergoing a renaissance in the 1970s. Stallone and Winkler provide wonderful performances, but watching Stallone here is amazing.

For his fans, Stallone’s role here as Stanley is no macho dude. Moviegoers were getting a good look at Stallone revealing his softer, emotionally connected side. Yes, The Lords of Flatbush displays a coming-of-age rhythm for the show’s four main cast members.

Henry Winkler gives a little foreshadowing performance, at least in a look, to Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli. He started playing that iconic TV character on Happy Days in 1974. But he didn’t start wearing a leather jacket right away.

Sylvester Stallone Shows His Emotional Side

In The Lords of Flatbush, Stallone’s Stanley has to face the line between adolescence and adulthood. He has to realize that becoming an adult just picked up the pace. His girlfriend Frannie, played by Maria Smith, tells him that she’s pregnant (but she’s really not). Stanley now is squarely facing marriage to Frannie in his future.

What a bummer that would be to his greaser image, full of greased hair and leather jackets. Sylvester Stallone shows his ability to connect emotionally with a character. He’s mumbling nearly every word out of his mouth. But showing that he can reach those human, emotional notes as an actor is amazing to see.

Why? Because Stallone doesn’t allow himself or his characters to show such pathos. His fans are usually in line to see some macho, testosterone-filled character like Rambo. Look, though, at Rocky or First Blood. In these movies, while Stallone’s characters are tough enough, real-life questions about life come to his mind.

The Lords of Flatbush is celebrating its 50th anniversary and can currently be seen on Netflix.

If you look closely at the movie’s credits, then you can see Sylvester Stallone get a writing credit for “additional dialogue.” A lot of his scenes were rewritten to fit his speaking style.

Stallone also had the foresight to know that the only way he could get movie roles was by writing his own dialogue. Taking scenes, breaking them down, and piecing them back together gave Stallone an “in” to the movie industry. Plus, in this movie, he was playing against what would be his type of role.

“I was always cast as a thug,” Stallone said in Sly, a documentary about his life and career. “‘Okay, that’s true, I am.’ But I’m also nice. I’m kind of a soft touch.”

Stallone shows off that soft touch in a scene with Frannie. When she tells him in a pool hall scene that she’s pregnant, Stanley doesn’t keep up his macho act. In a moment of weakness, Stanley says, “I’m too young to be a father.” Frannie fires back and says, “But you’re old enough to make me pregnant!”

‘The Lords of Flatbush’ Can Be Slow At Times

If you are looking for a fast-moving film, then you might want to skip this one. The Lords of Flatbush is a bit slow on the uptake, what with its 1950s imagery. That’s not a knock against the cast, though. It’s just the way that this movie was produced and filmed.

But this movie does have one pretty important fan, Collider reports. Quentin Tarantino has said that The Lords of Flatbush helped expose him to movies reflecting the mean streets of New York City. Tarantino also offers some critique of this movie in his book, Cinema Speculation. “In any other movie he’d [Stanley] be the bully bad guy of the piece,” Tarantino wrote. “It’s only Stallone’s sarcastic witticisms, said out of the corner of his mouth, that keep him vaguely sympathetic.”

This movie would be one of the last ones where macho Sly didn’t take over the screen. It did show others what he was capable of doing. Once the macho roles came along, this side of Stallone’s acting abilities was pretty much ignored.

Give this movie a chance, though. It will give you a bird’s-eye view into the acting abilities of two future superstars.