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Stallone: Frank, That Is... (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 27, 2023


Featuring Frank Stallone, Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Stallone, Danny Aiello, Bruce Buffer, Richie Sambora, Billy Dee Williams, Christopher McDonald, Frankie Avalon, Billy Zane, Talia Shire, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Duff McKagan, Jennifer Flavin Stallone, Frankie Sullivan, Stephen Bauer, Joe Mantegna, Annette Rua, Greg Clinton, Mark Harlen, Mike Barford, Mike Bartosiewicz, Allen Avraham Rosenblum, John Oates, Bob Tangrea, Bill Conti, Burt Young, Chuck Zito, Geraldo Rivera, Sammy Nestico and Nick Vallalongo.

Written by Derek Wayne Johnson.

Directed by Derek Wayne Johnson.

Distributed by Branded Studios. 73 minutes. Not Rated.

You can tell by the title of the new documentary Stallone: Frank, That Is, what is the defining conundrum in Frank Stallone’s life.

It is obvious that Frank Stallone is annoyed that people only think of him as “Sylvester Stallone’s brother.” And, sure, I can see how that would be a pain.

However, if you’re honest, Stallone: Frank, That Is… does show Frank to be a hard worker and someone who is constantly in search of fame and recognition for his music and art, but almost every time he had a big break or reached a massive audience, the opportunity was directly created by his younger, more famous brother.

His first notable musical moment – the song “Take You Back” from Sly’s breakthrough movie Rocky. (Frank also appeared as cameos in several of the Rocky films.) His only big hit single – “Far from Over” from the soundtrack of the movie Staying Alive, which Sly directed. It was Sylvester who decided to use five of Frank’s songs in that soundtrack when the Bee Gees decided to not do the whole album, only contribute a few songs. Frank acted in several of Sly’s movies, and even his semi-fame as a b-movie actor was pretty much due to recognition of his famous last name.

Otherwise, his projects – both as a singer and as an actor – were sometimes respected, sometimes cheesy but almost inevitably essentially overlooked.

That’s not saying that Frank Stallone isn’t talented. It’s just saying that if not for his brother, he’d just be another mostly forgotten aging rocker who never quite found an audience.

And he probably would not have a documentary on his life.

Is that fair? Maybe. Maybe not. But it is what it is.

One thing for sure, though. Frank Stallone has always had his eye to the stars. From the early days as a relatively popular singer with local bands in his hometown of Philadelphia even before Sly’s fame (a pre-stardom John Oates was in one of his early bands), Frank Stallone was driven to be a big rock star.

He had the look. He had the voice. He had the charisma. It’s just for the most part, every time it seemed like things were breaking his way, something happened to derail his momentum, whether it be disappointing sales or the politics of show business.

He had a somewhat busy, if not very impressive acting career, mostly starring in cheesy b-movies like Death Blow: A Cry for Justice, The Ten Little Indians, Terror in Beverly Hills and Legend of the Roller Blade Seven. He even occasionally got supporting roles in respected indie and studio films like Barfly, Tombstone and Hudson Hawk (the last of which turned out to be an infamous bomb, but at least when he was cast there were high hopes about the project being a big hit). However, Stallone acknowledges freely that acting never came as easily to him as music.

It’s rather telling that Stallone: Frank, That Is… pretty much overlooked the last couple of decades, in which time Frank has become probably better known for being a pro-Trump Twitter troll than for his music. (This only comes close to being acknowledged towards the end of the film when a friend vaguely concedes that Frank Stallone has strong opinions and isn’t afraid to share them.)

The documentary tries to sell the idea that Stallone’s new musical act – mostly doing nostalgic shows built around Rat Pack and show tune standards – has put Stallone back on the fast track. If playing packed houses in Branson, Missouri is your idea of stardom, then yeah, he’s still relevant.

But more importantly, Frank Stallone’s life story teaches us one thing – the dude never, ever gives up. No matter how many punches that life and fate lob at him, he keeps on going. Music is his life, his raison d’etre, and he will stay at it as long as he’s standing.

Funny, that sounds a lot like a certain boxer that his brother has played several times in the movies.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: January 19, 2021.


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