On This Day: Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone Movie ‘Rhinestone’ Hits Theaters in 1984

by Jim Casey

There are great movies. And then there are bad movies that are great. Rhinestone, starring Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone, is the latter. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the comedy (I use that term loosely) that was released in theaters nationwide on June 22, 1984.

However, Dolly and Sly are a cinematic treat that everyone should indulge in at least once in their life. Let’s hit rewind on this 1984 comedy of errors.

Dolly & Sly

By 1984, Dolly Parton was a multimedia star. In addition to her stellar country music career, the Tennessee native found plenty of crossover success on TV . . . and her film career was burgeoning. In 1980, she starred in the box-office smash, 9 to 5. Later in 1982, Dolly teamed with Burt Reynolds for another blockbuster, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

On the other hand, Sylvester Stallone was already one of Hollywood’s biggest stars by 1984. His resume included Rocky (1976), Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), and First Blood (1982), among others.

A Dolly/Sly collaboration? Sign us up.

Rhinestone centered around a country singer (played by Dolly Parton) placing a bet with her NYC nightclub manager that she could turn anyone—even a loud-mouthed New York City cab driver (played by Sly Stallone)—into a country singer. Stallone’s awkward attempt at singing—and comedy—proved too much for movie-viewing audiences. The film was a financial failure, as well as a critical flop. In fact, Stallone copped two Golden Raspberry Awards (Worst Actor and Worst Original Song for “Drinkenstein”). The film has a 15 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on reviews from 13 critics.

Silver Lining

While the film flopped, Dolly Parton still found success with two songs featured on the soundtrack. “Tennessee Homesick Blues,” which Dolly wrote, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1984. It also earned Dolly a nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance – Female at the Grammy Awards. In addition, “God Won’t Get You” peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1984.

And if you ask Dolly, Rhinestone was a huge success.

“I always try to look for God’s success, not mine,” said Dolly Parton to Country Weekly magazine in 2006. “I always pray and try to let God do His business. If something don’t work, I try to think, ‘Well, now you prayed about it and you sincerely were honest. You just can’t ask God to give you just what you want. Maybe God wants it to be this way, for whatever reason.’

“So I try to find the bigger purpose, see the higher picture. And, through the years, you learn, and it depends on whose success you’re talking about. Just like the movie Rhinestone. That was critically a big bomb. But it came at a time when I was coming off an illness and a bad time in my life. And getting back doing that movie, working around somebody as healthy and loony as Sylvester Stallone—it was a huge success for me personally. It really helped heal and mend me in a way that made my future work great. So, who’s to say what prayer is answered or what’s truly a success or failure? It’s all in a big ole heap and you just have to kind of sort it out about what it means to you and what’s important to you.”