Sylvester Stallone's critically panned role in Rhinestone (1984) as New York cabbie turned country singer Nick Martinelli gifted us with one of the most surreal songs in a Hollywood picture, the Dolly Parton-written "Drinkin' Stein."
In the film, Jake Farris (played by co-star Parton) takes Martinelli back home to Leiper's Fork, Tennessee to learn the country music ropes. Reason being, Ferris is trying to win a high-stakes bet with sleaze-ball club owner Freddie Ugo (played by Ron Leibman) by turning a hard-nosed New York City cab driver into a country star.
Martinelli, who claims to hate country music "worse than liver," first embraces his inner hillbilly during a front porch jam with local act the Wild Possum Band. His on-screen collaborators on "Drinkin' Stein" include characters played by Parton's uncle Bill Owens and other relatives from her mom Avie Lee Owens' side of the family. Parton and Porter Wagoner's longtime manager Don Warden and pianist Del Wood round out Leiper's Fork's finest old-time ensemble.
Although it won a Razzie for the worst song in a major motion picture, there's a charm to Stallone's intentionally awkward singing chops and regrettable fashion sense in this clip from the country music equivalent of My Fair Lady.
In its time, Rhinestone was a flop, making back just $21 million of its $28 million budget. Original script writer Phil Alden Robinson, who'd redeem himself a few years later with Field of Dreams, distanced himself from film because of script changes attributed to Stallone.
Sly's also knocked the final product's John Rambo meets Dottie Rambo vibe, despite speaking highly of his opportunity to work with Parton.
"The most fun I ever had on a movie was with Dolly Parton on Rhinestone," Stallone told Ain't It Cool News in 2006. "I must tell everyone right now that originally the director was suppose to be Mike Nichols, that was the intention and it was suppose to be shot in New York, down and dirty with Dolly and I with gutsy mannerisms performed like two antagonists brought together by fate. 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. 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."
The so-bad-it's-good movie has a lousy 15 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Additional stars include Parton's fellow Porter Wagoner Show alum Speck Rhodes plus Richard Farnsworth, Tim Thomerson, Steve Peck (billed as Stephen Apostle Pec), Russell Buchanan, Jerry Potter, Ritch Brinkley and Penny Santon. Larry Weiss, the writer of the song "Rhinestone Cowboy," is among the many hecklers cast for the film's various musical scenes.