June 24

Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Rhinestone’

Have you seen the movie Rhinestone over three decades ago? What did you think of it? Who can forget about Sylvester Stallone being one of the most prominent stars in Hollywood in 1984? This was when he premiered as Rambo.  Meanwhile, Dolly Parton was not only one of the music’s biggest crossover superstars, but she had also starred in the movies 9 to 5 and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. These two are back-to-back box office hits. The comedy movie, Rhinestone, paired them and whoa! That was released 33 years ago last June 22, 1984.

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Unfortunately, the resulting film was not as successful. The premise of Rhinestone is that Parton’s character — a country singer stuck in a long-term contract with a sleazy New York nightclub owner — brags that she can turn anyone into a country sensation in two weeks. So, she bets that she can make Stallone’s character, Nick Martinelli — an obnoxious New York City cab driver — into a country singer. If she wins, then her contract becomes void; if she loses, her contract is extended by five years.

Phil Alden Robinson, writer, and director of Field of Dreams, Sneakers and The Sum of All Fears, also wrote the original screenplay for Rhinestone, which Stallone himself re-worked. Robinson allegedly disliked Stallone’s additions to his script so much that he thought about having his name taken off the film’s credits. And on top of an unlikely premise and knotty script, the fact that Stallone wasn’t remotely believable as a singer didn’t help the film, either.

In the end, Rhinestone was a huge financial failure: It cost $28 million to film and earned less than $22 million at the box office. Critics universally panned the movie, too; it was nominated for a total of nine Golden Raspberry Awards (aka, the Razzie Awards), including Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Musical Score. It “won” two of them: Worst Actor (Stallone) and Worst Original Song, for “Drinkenstein” (featured above).

Still, the Rhinestone experience wasn’t a total loss for Parton, who hit it off with her co-star.

“We just rubbed each other just right,” she once told Entertainment Tonight, “if you’ll pardon the expression.”

Parton also scored two hit songs from the OST, “Tennessee Homesick Blues” and “God Won’t Get You.” However, the failure of Rhinestone did have an impact on her career as a movie star. She returned to the big screen as part of a group performers in Steel Magnolias in 1989, but her next starring vehicle, 1992’s Straight Talk, was another box office no good. After that, Parton did not receive star billing in another feature film until 2012’s Joyful Noise.

Here is one of the scenes taken from the movie Rhinestone:

Oh well, I guess that was quite a bummer. Either way, we all have downs in our lives that we can’t avoid, can we?


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