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PAPER TRAILS: Big budget film in state history now

by Sean Clancy | September 13, 2020 at 8:42 a.m.
Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist

It was nearly 30 years ago that a terrible and savage gang of marauding bikers invaded the state Capitol building and murdered a courtroom full of people.

We're speaking of course about scenes from "Stone Cold," the unintentionally hilarious 1991 action film starring former University of Oklahoma football star Brian Bosworth.

The movie was set in Mississippi, but Arkansas' Capitol building was used for the climactic finale that found Bosworth's character, a rebellious cop working undercover for the FBI, blasting baddies as they tore around inside the Capitol on their motorcycles. (The building also made an appearance in the 1986 miniseries "Under Siege.")

The level of silliness in "Stone Cold" is stratospheric. A motorcycle is used to blow up a helicopter; a blood-covered Bosworth, who earlier was about to be tossed out of the chopper with a bomb strapped to his chest, stalks the marble floors of the Capitol before a goofy showdown with the gang's leader, whose name is Chains.

It's all quite a hoot if one can ignore the violence, sexism, wooden acting and dialogue that sounds like it was written by a bunch of eighth-grade boys.

"Stone Cold" was a big-budget production but had a disappointing run at the box office. Still, Bosworth made the transition from flashy, loudmouth football player to working actor, appearing most recently in the Starz series "Ambitions."

Michael Klossner, a retired cataloger for the Arkansas State Library in Little Rock, is writing about the film for the Central Arkansas Library System's Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

With its wild-eyed brutality and white supremacist gang members, "Stone Cold" depicted a "hellish view of the South," says the 74-year-old Klossner, who has written entries for the online encyclopedia on Arkansas-related films like "Shelter," "Fighting Mad" and "Gospel of Eureka," among others.

He likens it to a second-rate version of a rogue-cop flick.

"It was kind of late in the day, when Clint Eastwood and [Sylvester] Stallone had given that stuff up and lesser guys were doing it," Klossner says.

The state library was actually near where "Stone Cold" was filmed, but Klossner never slipped away from work to take a peek at the set.

"The people I talked to who watched the filming said it was very boring," he says.

Klossner, the author of "Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television" and "The Europe of 1500-1815 on Film and Television," is trying to confirm anecdotes about a pilot on "Stone Cold" leaving his helicopter on the helipad at Arkansas Children's Hospital while he ate lunch and of crew members grousing about the lack of nightlife in Little Rock.

Got some "Stone Cold" info? Let us know, and we'll pass it along.

email: sclancy@adgnewsroom.com

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