Paradise Alley is a 1978 American sports film written and directed by Sylvester Stallone in his feature film directorial debut, who also starred in the role. The film tells the story of the three brothers in Hell's Kitchen, New York City in the 1940s who become involved in professional wrestling.
This was the first major film in which Armand Assante appeared. Anne Archer also starred. Joe Spinell, a co-star of Rocky, played the wrestling MC. A number of professional wrestlers appeared, including Terry Funk as the foil to the hero. Cameos include Ted DiBiase, Bob Roop, Dick Murdoch, Dory Funk Jr., Don Leo Jonathan, Don Kernodle, Gene Kiniski, Dennis Stamp, Ray Stevens, and Uliuli Fifita. Playwright and screenwriter John Monks Jr appeared as Mickey the bartender.
Victor, the youngest and largest of the Carboni brothers (Cosmo and Lenny are the other two), becomes a local wrestler (named Kid Salami) at the request of Cosmo, who thinks there is big money to be made. Lenny agrees to manage his career. They look to Victor to win enough matches so they can get out of Hell's Kitchen for good. (Victor wants to marry his Asian girlfriend and live on a houseboat they plan to buy in New Jersey.)
Each brother has his own style. Cosmo is a hustler and con-artist, always looking for the next easy buck. Lenny is the former war hero, now an undertaker who came back to the neighborhood with a limp and a bitter attitude. Victor is a gawky, strong, dumb yet sincere hulk of a man, who leaves his job hauling ice up tenement stairways once he is persuaded to become a wrestler.
Initially, it is Cosmo that dominates the proceedings, aggressively encouraging Victor to wrestle against the wishes of his girlfriend. Lenny is at first unsure of all this, and constantly tries to warn off Victor, reminding him that he could get hurt.
As the story progresses, the roles begin to reverse. Cosmo becomes concerned for Victor's welfare and feels guilty about getting him into this while Lenny becomes ever more keen to exploit Victor as far as he can. Lenny seems to undergo a complete personality change, losing his cool demeanor and becoming an aggressive, manipulative high roller.
In the end, Victor wins a big wrestling match in a rainstorm and the brothers are reunited.
- Sylvester Stallone as Cosmo Carboni
- Armand Assante as Lenny
- Lee Canalito as Victor
- Anne Archer as Annie
- Kevin Conway as Stitch
- Terry Funk as Frankie the Thumper
- Frank McRae as Big Glory
- Joe Spinell as Burp
- Tom Waits as Mumbles
- Aimee Eccles as Susan Chow
- Joyce Ingalls as Bunchie
- John Cherry Monks, Jr. as Micky the Bartender
- Frank Stallone as Singer
- Ted DiBiase as Wrestler