You Are Not Stallone I Am Here With You

Cliffhanger was one of the standout films of any half decent childhood

Everyday is littered with tell-tale signs reminding us of the unwavering passage of time. One such sign I find particularly affecting, is how far I have to scroll down the DOB year list when I’m buying plane tickets or whatever. It’s not good. Also, Discmen.

Another one I find a little stinging, is that the film Cliffhanger is so close to my heart.

Anything you watch when you’re like eight is going to have a profound affect on you, and my brother and I wore the tape in this VHS down to the nub. But the above looks so old it could be a retro Bond poster. And that makes me feel old. I envy the youth of today, with their angry birds and their snapchat and most of all their attention spans.

But no youth of today has ever watched, or will ever watch Cliffhanger. As a result, no youth of today will ever be able to describe the unbridled joy of finding the best acting performance of all time, hidden within the first five minutes of this staggering bit of cinema.

It concerns the – in almost all respects – pretty tense scene when the lady falls from the trip-line.

Strange the way Sly’s triceps can’t take the weight of an 8-stone girl, but plot inconsistencies to one side, it’s the performance of Frank the helicopter pilot that is worthy of closer inspection.

As the scene nears its disturbing finale, Sly is doing his absolute worst to keep hold of this girl who’s about to fall to her death. Looking on from the side is the husband of the lady, some hench rock-climber with even less acting prowess than Stallone, and our aforementioned man Frank.

And it’s the performance of Frank the helicopter pilot that steals the show. While this lady is very evidently on the brink of death…

Frank is absolutely creasing himself.

Check him out.

Seriously just watch the scene.

At 0:15 he’s just warming up, but it’s on 1:10 – as she’s falling – that he’s in absolute hysterics.

I don’t know if Universal weren’t paying him enough and he’d decided to botch the film in the only way he knew possible, but I mean how else can you explain this behaviour? I’ll tell you one thing. At that moment in time acting was pretty low-down on the list of Frank’s priorities.

My brother and I used to spend days rewinding and watching this again and again and again. I love the fact we weren’t alone. Someone uploaded the same scene having hit upon the magic too.

You said it brother.

So am I buddy, so am I.


So to all those ragamuffins born two decades after me, I can’t play angry birds – I could but I won’t – I don’t know what TickTock is, and I won’t live to see the 2070 World Cup final. But I can recall the unbridled fear of buying a porn mag, and I can tell you about Ralph Waite’s frankly unbelievable performance in the first five minutes of Cliffhanger. And that makes me feel alive.