Thursday, December 22, 2011
(August 1978, U.S.)
"F.I.S.T" was, perhaps, the best film Sylvester Stallone could have done immediately following the runaway success of ROCKY (1976). Once again, he's playing a fighter of sorts, but instead of the boxing ring, the arena is the labor unions of the 1930's Great Depression era. This was also a follow-up film where Sly proved he could ACT. Yes, my friends, this is one of those rare and few-and-far-between occassions where I can use the name Sylvester Stallone and the word "act" in the same sentence. The film is loosely based on the Teamsters union and their former President Jimmy Hoffa (look him up).
For the sake of clarity, "F.I.S.T" stands for Federation of Interstate Truckers. The men who drive the trucks and work the loading docks (including Stallone's character of Johnny Kovak) are persistently and unfairly dumped on by their bosses and the trucking company they represent until one day, almost by accident, a small uprising takes place against the bosses and their unjust policies of low pay, no overtime pay and no health insurance. What begins as a small army of men gradually becomes a national empire of labor unions, all of it inevitably headed by Kovak as he slowly rises to the zenith of power faster than you can say Don Corleone. And as expected film cliche would have it, the rise to power and the success it brings is not without the high cost of Mafia involvement and governmental investigation. There's also the love interest for Kovak...because every powerful man has a strong woman who loves him standing by his side, right? And finally, as you might predict, a man like Kovak, who becomes too powerful for his own good and manages to piss off too many people is very likely to find his own life (and his family's) in emminent mortal danger.
That in mind, can you guess how the film ends? You're right.
Let me just conclude that if your idea and memories of Sylvester Stallone falls under the over-the-top crap he gave us throughout the last three decades, then I strongly suggest you watch "F.I.S.T" and experience the man's acting abilities before they became corrupted by everything that is corruptable about multiplex action-adventure movies. I mean, really, how can ANYONE be expected to watch crap like COBRA and OVER THE TOP and still maintain a straight face???
Favorite line or dialogue:
Johnny Kovak: "You know somethin', St. Clair, when I first took this job, I had a feeling that if I did a good enough job, sooner or later somebody'd come walkin' up those stairs, somebody like you, and they'd tell me what you're tellin' me now, and I knew then what I was gonna say and I know now...why don't you the hell outta my office! You're stinkin' up union property!"