Thankfully, Stallone was able to pull himself out of his acting funk with the help of a few proper starring roles. The first was that of Stanley, the main character in the film “The Lords of Flatbush,” which took more than two years to film thanks to budget issues, finally finishing in 1974. However, before that movie even finished filming, a second movie came along featuring Stallone as the top spot: the independent film “No Place to Hide.”
In it, Stallone plays a member of an urban terrorist movement who falls in love with a jewelry seller. After Stallone made it big, the movie was recut and edited to have him as the main character. It was later re-edited again, using outtakes and matching footage into a parody of itself called “A Man Called… Rainbo.”
Of course, those few starring or minor characters aren’t the only acting credits that Stallone had. However, pretty much everything else is very small, uncredited roles. These include appearing as a soldier sitting at a table in the film “MASH,” a party guest in the film “Pigeons,” a subway thug in the Woody Allen film “Bananas,” and as an extra in the psychological thriller “Klute.” He also had a slightly bigger role in the 1975 film “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”
The lead, played by Jack Lemmon, chases and mugs Stallone’s character, believing him to be a pickpocket. That moment came after a really important role that would help keep Stallone afloat until he stepped into the ring. It took a little more time for Stallone to figure things out, and that time wasn’t easy.
About to Throw in the Towel
By the year of 1972, Stallone was considering giving up the acting dream for good. He would later describe this period as another low point. He was very nearly an extra in “The Godfather,” but could even get such a paltry role. He did manage to get a job as an extra in another hit, “What’s Up, Doc?” which, while not as fondly remembered as “The Godfather,” was still seen by millions of people, and even starred Barbra Streisand as the female lead.
It was even named number sixty-one on the 100 Greatest American Comedies list put out by the American Film Institute. And, yes, Stallone is technically in the film, but he only has a few shots where he appears, and he’s barely visible in either of them.
Forcing a Replacement
Stallone had done a little bit of script work on “The Lords of Flatbush,” which might have given him the clout to pull off this next move. One of the other actors in the film was the then-unknown Richard Gere. Both men played fifties street toughs, but it seems that Gere was being a little too rough of a tough. Gere drew Stallone’s ire for being too physical during rehearsals, but Gere might have also spilled mustard on Stallone during a lunch break.
Such an affront was not something Stallone would stand for, and he said one of the two men had to be gone. Gere was quickly replaced by Perry King. Who knows if the two men can be in the same room together – they certainly haven’t starred in any movies together.
A Little Movie About a Boxer
While getting bit roles and a few small starring moments, Stallone was always working on his own writing, including a script about a washed-out boxer given a big chance on a national stage. Maybe that story sounds a little familiar to you. Even after the little success he’d found, he was almost flat broke. He moved to California, and was having such a hard time that he had to sell his dog – he could hardly feed himself, much less his dog.
One night, however, he went out to see a boxing match between Muhammad Ali (who is known as “The Greatest”) and Chuck Wepner on March 24, 1975. Chuck was known as “The Bayonne Bleeder.” Everybody thought they knew how the fight was going to go, but it ended up shocking everyone.