February 23, 2015

Sly Stallone is “an encyclopedia of literature and film knowledge”


According to Selma star Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone is “an encyclopedia of literature and film knowledge.”  I am not surprised at all. Are you? Do you think Tessa Thompson is just pulling the standard Hollywood “Oh I loved working with everyone. They were all so nice and talented!” routine? I guess I can understand your skepticism. I, too, have seen a lot of Sly’s movies. A LOT. Yes, even Rhinestone.

I know. I know. That was pretty terrible. But you are making an easy mistake. You are conflating the man with the roles he chooses and (frequently) creates for himself. Don’t worry. You are in good company. Even Barbara Walters made the same mistake. If you take the time to watch that classic interview you will surely see an honest, articulate, witty guy.  Still having doubts as to his intellect? Let’s investigate.

It’s common knowledge that Stallone wrote the screenplays to most of his most iconic films. Rambo, Rocky, Cliffhanger, etc.  But what most people don’t know is that he hid famous quotes by his favorite thinkers in his scripts.

Take a look at this line from the 1995 film Judge Dredd.

Sound familiar? It should. Judge kick-ass Dredd just paraphrased Voltaire.

This frame is from the 1987 film Over the Top. The plot involves a deadbeat dad -slash- arm wrestling champion reuniting with his estranged son. The somber line is actually a quotation from Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran.

This scene is from the 1986 movie CobraVery bleak. No surprise that this dark line comes from the nihilistic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Well there is no question where this clip is from, 1976’s Rocky. This defiant statement uttered by Rocky was actually a direct quote of libertarian favorite Ayn Rand.

This last scene is from the 1988 film Rambo III. This wise battle weary Rambo is quoting Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic novel The Master and Margarita.

Believe me now? I forgive you for ever doubting Sly’s brilliance.


Adly Elewa is the art director of Melville House.