Rebel opens the same way as First Blood, with Sylvester Stallone hitchhiking on a country road. Other than that, the two films have nothing in common. For one thing, in Rebel, Sly is wearing a big floppy hat and stops to feed some horses with a big, goofy grin on his face. He also doesn’t get hassled by the man. Instead, he gets picked up by a bunch of hippies in VW microbus.
Stallone is playing Jerry Savage, an anti-war activist, former college student, and probably one of the hippies that spit on John Rambo when he returned from Nam. Disillusioned by protest marches that don’t seem to accomplish anything, Jerry is going to New York City so he can hook up with the Weather Underground. He and his friends are planning to blow up a kitchen goods company that has accepted a contract to build bamboo cages for the government. What Jerry doesn’t know is that the FBI is onto his scheme. Nothing works out but the movie is mostly about Jerry sitting around and talking to people about how messed up the world is. It all ends, as all low-budget movies from the 1960s must, with Jerry running through a green field.
This was Stallone’s second film, after A Party At Kitty and Stud’s. He was twenty-four years old. The film was originally released under the title No Place To Hide and it vanished until Rocky made Stallone an unlikely star. It was re-released in 1980, now called Rebel and re-edited to remove almost every scene not involving Jerry, making it even more of a Stallone vehicle. This is the version that is currently available on YouTube. In 1983, new scenes were shot and this film was released once again, this time as a comedy called A Man Called … Rainbo.
(Rambo. Rainbo. Get it?)
Regardless of which version you find, there’s no reason to watch Rebel beyond the strangeness of seeing Sylvester Stallone play a hippie revolutionary but, especially if you’re a fan of Sly’s 80s law-and-order phase, that’s reason enough. Even before he was best known as Rocky, Rambo, and Cobra, Sly seems miscast as a peace-loving radical. He delivers his lines softly, trying to hide his trademark New York accent. Stallone is the best actor in the movie but, if you saw this movie in 1970, you would never expect its lead to one day be one of the biggest stars in the world.