The Good Life (1997)

Once upon a time — let’s say 1997 — Sylvester Stallone agreed to a cameo appearance in his brother Frank’s passion project, a film about three golfers who move from New Jersey to Miami, with two of them killing the third. It was called The Good Life. And if you can’t remember it, that’s because unlike nearly every movie that eventually leaks and is released, it’s just gone. Poof. Thin air. Beyond the curtain invisible, as it were.

According to this amazing article on Little White Lies, this film from producers Alan and Diane Mehrez focused on the three main characters being involved with organized crime, such as an unpaid debt to Mr. B (Dennis Hopper). Most folks associated with the film compare it to The Sopranos and it was to start with a disclaimer about how often the characters would swear.

Other than the aforementioned Stallone brothers, the film also featured Andrew “Dice” Clay, Peter Dobson (Elvis Presley in Forrest Gump), David Carradine, Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation), Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo from The Sopranos), Tony Sirico (another character from The Sopranos, Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri), Burt Young (Rocky, sure, but I love him from Amityville II: The Possession), former boxer Vinny Pazienza, stuntman Erik Betts and David Anthony Pizzuto (the voice of Willem Dafoe on Family Guy).

Even when the film hit production snags and moved from Miami to Mexico, bringing in Alan Amiel (Shootfighter: Fight to the Death) to help, the crew was impressed with the footage they were getting. However, by the time filming was done, Frank Stallone and the Mehrezes were not getting along. Then, the worst thing that could happen happened.

A promotional reel featuring clips from Sylvester Stallone’s scene — making him seem like the main character — started making the rounds of Hollywood.

If we’ve learned anything about Sylvester Stallone over the weeks that we’ve explored his films, it’s that he takes no shit. He agreed to do this film for two sets of custom-made Kenneth Smith golf club. And he worked hard — a ten-hour day — on his lone day on set, longer than all of the other principal actors. But he also had a clause in his contract that limited the use of his name and likeness in the film’s advertising. Once that got invalidated, he hit the movie with a $20 million dollar lawsuit — 4 times its overall budget.

A month later, Frank Stallone sued and then the Mehrezes countersued — O.J. Simpson trial prosecutor Chris Darden was on their legal team — both Stallone’s for $50 million dollars. There was supposedly an amicable settlement but the film has never escaped afterward. In a day and age where everything is available on blu ray and streaming, the fact that a movie made within the last 25 years — one starring known name actors — has disappeared is pretty astounding.

This grainy clip is all the world has seen:

It’s not Sly’s The Day the Clown Cried. But it’s close.

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