Country Throwback: Sylvester Stallone Once Played a Country Singer in 1984’s ‘Rhinestone’

by Jon D. B.

What’s the only thing that could make Sylvester Stallone attempting country music more bizarrely iconic? If he did so with Dolly Parton as his guide. Welcome back to 1984’s with their oddball musical adventure film, Rhinestone.

Ah, the 80s. Undoubtedly the only decade in which Sylvester Stallone could’ve ever been paid to sing country music. While the famous action star can (almost) carry a tune and had for other film prior, there’s not a single country bone in the born-and-bred New York beefcake.

Twentieth Century Fox, however, thought this would make for a perfect “fish out of water” story in which Stallone’s New York City cab driver, Nick Martinelli, winds up with no choice but to become a country star. Stallone must’ve thought it was a great idea, too, because the action star was at the top of his game at the time – and turned down the lead roles in both Romancing the Stone (1984) and the lead in Beverly Hills Cop (1984) to make Rhinestone.

So what could’ve possibly convinced Sylvester Stallone that this was such a good idea? Two words – one untouchable name: Dolly Parton. Dolly was to be the film’s female lead and center of the plot as Jake Farris. Rhinestone sees Parton’s Jake as a contract singer at a club called The Rhinestone.

Within, her horrid manager has her tied to years of work in the club she can’t get out of. Unless that is, she can win their bet. Jake bets Freddie, said manager, that she can turn “anyone into a country star in two weeks”. If she wins – she gets out of her contract at The Rhinestone. But if she loses, she has to perform there for five more years…

Freddie then selects Stallone’s over-the-top NYC cabbie Nick as the subject of their bet.

Sylvester Stallone Attempts – and Fails – Country for RHINESTONE

“She’s bet everything, and we mean everything, that she can turn this New York cabbie into an overnight sensation,” the film’s posters read. “He has other things in mind. But he’s never had a trainer like this one!” Ain’t that the truth.

While the film would end up a critical and commercial flop, the storyline sees Parton’s Jake take Nick “back home” to Tennessee to train up in proper country music. To accommodate this, Parton wrote several songs based on her own life that ended up as top 10 country western hits for the icon.

Rhinestone features Stallone singing several songs to the best of his ability. These include “Stay Out Of My Bedroom,” “Woke Up in Love,” “Drinkinstein,” “Sweet Lovin’ Friends,” and “I’ll Be There.”

With this in mind, give Rhinestone’s trailer a watch below and see what you make of it:

Giving the trailer a watch, your first instinct is probably “hey, this movie couldn’t be that bad…”

Allow us to introduce you fully to Rhinestone. In the form of Stallone’s Nick. Singing “country” song, “Drinkinstein”. This… thing… goes a long way in cementing Rhinestone, officially, as one of the 100 Worst Movies Ever in John Wilson’s “The Official Razzie Movie Guide”.

Stallone’s Worst Moment on Film: “Drinkinstein”…

This song murders the film for audiences, and it did for Stallone, as well.

During an archived interview with Aint It Cool News, the action icon speaks at length on his time with Rhinestone. Within, he says “the most fun I ever had on a movie was with Dolly Parton on Rhinestone.”

From there, however, he’s quick to lament the rest of the film, and his experience making it.

“I must tell everyone right now that originally the director was supposed to be Mike Nichols, that was the intention and it was supposed to be shot in New York, down and dirty with Dolly and I with gutsy mannerisms performed like two antagonists brought together by fate,” Stallone begins.

“I wanted the music at that time to be written by people who would give it sort of a bizarre edge. Believe it or not, I contacted Whitesnake’s management and they were ready to write some very interesting songs alongside Dolly’s. But, I was asked to come down to Fox and out steps the director, Bob Clark. Bob is a nice guy, but the film went in a direction that literally shattered my internal corn meter into smithereens. I would have done many things differently,” he clarifies.

As for what Rambo & Rocky star Sylvester Stallone would’ve done differently?

“I certainly would’ve steered clear of comedy unless it was dark, Belgian chocolate dark. Silly comedy didn’t work for me. I mean, would anybody pay to see John Wayne in a whimsical farce? Not likely. I would stay more true to who I am and what the audience would prefer rather than trying to stretch out and waste a lot of time and people’s patience.”

Dolly Parton’s Rhinestone Top 10 Hits

On the other end of the spectrum, Dolly Parton was still able to enjoy success from the film. As a credit to her own phenomenal songwriting skills, she managed to pull two top 10 country western hits out of the soundtrack. These are: “Tennessee Homesick Blues” and “God Won’t Get You”.

Listen to “Tennessee Homesick Blues”

From there, the majority of the soundtrack features duets between Sylvester Stallone and Dolly. And they’re an… interesting listen… for country fans.

Below, we’ve got four of Rhinestone’s duet tracks for your listening delight. Just don’t come after us if they end up stuck in your head for all the wrong reasons.

“I’ll Be There” – Dolly Parton & Sylvester Stallone

“Stay Out of My Bedroom”

“Woke Up in Love”

“Sweet Lovin’ Friends” – Dolly Parton & Sylvester Stallone

What a Throwback…

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