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Hero Sandwich

May 18, 1986

I find it terribly amusing that Mr. Rambo, a.k.a. Sylvester Stallone, has found cowardice to be the better part of valor (Film Clips, by Jack Mathews, April 30). The same man who finds it so convincingly easy to wreak havoc and terror on multifarious enemies of peace-loving people in film is afraid to simply be a sea away from terrorist havens in real life.

Apparently, "The Italian Stallion" has no "Cannes-do."

In a recent commentary on the CBS Radio Network, Charles Osgood defended "Rocky" because he is solely an actor and not a genuine hero. That may be true of an actor who portrays a variety of characters, but in Stallone's case, he is constantly portraying fist-swinging, gun-toting, butt-kicking Neanderthals who are above society's conventions and constraints, seemingly without weakness of any kind, including--and most especially--fear.

Can one be blamed for assuming that the man whose films are usually in multiples ("Rocky I, II, III," "Rambo I, II . . .," etc.) actually believes he is the character he presents on screen?

The truth is, Stallone has no war record; he was never a member of the Armed Forces. Of course, he is not the first film war hero not to have seen the trauma of war action other than on a sound stage. "America's Greatest Hero," John Wayne, also never bothered to join Uncle Sam's team. To me, the image they have portrayed is laughably hypocritical, and Stallone deserves ridicule for being overly fearful of the mere threat of terrorist action.

Perhaps it is time America re-examines its addiction to these "champions." Just because someone is shown to be capable with his fists and a gun on film, that's no reason to expect it to carry over in real life. . . . Just ask James Garner.



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