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.
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
This is a good fun, adventure movie made at the height of Sylvester Stallone's critical popularity he was awarded for Rocky (1976). Working hard as Paradise Alley's Writer, Director and Star, Sly does amazingly well, and his script and energetic direction are both full of color and finesse. Sly gets the best out of his main co-stars, Armande Assante and Lee Canalito, who along with Sly make up the underdog Carboni brothers. As Cosmo, Sly is a fun loving, wisecracking, con-man, who, unlike Rocky, is an unlikeable and unredeeming character. Somehow though, perhaps its with the shadow of Rocky over him, Stallone turns Cosmo into a likeable character, the heart and soul of the picture and gets you rooting for him and his brothers. Armand Assante as Lenny Carboni, is the movies most interesting character, he turns virtually over night from a good natured itallian catholic boy, into a tough, street wise Wrestling promoter, because he gives into the world he was born into. Lee Canalito gives a slightly amaturish performance as Victor, not surprising as he wasn't an actor prior to this film. However, with Canalito's physical appearance, and syrupy voice you never once doubt the inner animal waiting to escape the child, and Canalito, as Kid Salami is every bit as good as Sly as Rocky, in the wrestling scenes here. It is also nice to see Stallone regulars Frank McRae, as fallen Wrestling legend Big Glory in a heart breaking scene with Stallone's Cosmo, and Rocky's Mr Gazzo, Joe Spinelli turns up almost unrecognisably, as a garrish, wrestling ring master. It is not hard however to see why this film failed. At times it doesn't know what sort of movie it wants to be. Should it go for the laughs or the sentimentality? Is Stallone's character the hero or is it Assante's? Stallone turns out an efficient movie, his first time as director, but it really needed someone like John G Avildsen, no stranger to sports movies with Rocky, and Rocky V (1990) A Power of One (1989), not to mention The Karate Kid series, to just smooth out those rough edges. Also the 1940's New York setting is kind of surplus, Rocky was set in the present (for the time), and you feel that this movie could have been all the better for being modern. It is also kind of strange to see a bare chested hero in the ring at the movies climax other than Stallone, and again, had Cosmo been given a redemption of sorts, the film would have had more of that feel good factor so common with Sly's movies. However, Paradise Alley is a well made, acted and enjoyable romp. With fantastically coreographed Wrestling scenes, good characters and a nice breezy pace, and an emotion and adrenaline charged Bill Conti music score to die for. Oh, and that is Sylvester Stallone singing the movies theme song "Too close to Paradise" a good tune sung well by Sly, but you judge for yourself.
15 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this