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MFF Random Data: Analyzing the Hang Time in the 1993 Action Classic Cliffhanger

November 8, 2021

I love Cliffhanger, it’s one of my favorite action films, and it’s aged beautifully since 1993. Between Renny Harlin’s direction, the on-location shoot in Italy, and the inspired performances from John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Sylvester Stallone, and Rex Linn, it’s aged like a fine Italian wine. 

If you haven’t watched it, the movie revolves around a guy named Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) battling a gang of criminals led by Eric Qualen (John Lithgow), who are wandering around the Colorado mountains looking for cases of cash that blew out of an airplane during a heist (Yes, there’s an airplane heist, and it’s glorious). The problem is, a year prior, Walker was involved in a tragic accident that saw the girlfriend of his best friend Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker), falling a long way to her death. The tragic accident weighs heavily on Gabe, and it doesn’t help that he has to team up with Hal, to defeat the deadly criminals (who shoot rockets into the side of a mountain, and cause an avalanche that kills some of them), who really want the millions of cash that are spread around the mountain. It all culminates with a beautiful fight between Stallone and Lithgow that takes place on an upside down helicopter that is attached to the side of a mountain. It’s a glorious brawl, and it provides another example of how Harlin loves adding multiple elements to his action films. 

While watching the movie again, I really wanted to know how much time Stallone spends hanging from various items. So, I used timestamps and a stopwatch to clock the times, and I came up with the following graphic. It’s neat knowing that he spends more time hanging from a ladder than he does on cliff faces. 

Quick Definition – Hanging – suspend or be suspended from above with the lower part dangling free. 

Basically, in the beginning of the film, Stallone is attached to a cable, and his legs are wrapped around it. This isn’t considered hanging. It’s conderied hanging when he’s climbing on the side of a mountain, loses his footing, and he grips a piece of rock in hopes of not falling to his death. Take a look at the image below, and you’ll have a solid idea of what I mean. 


I’ve covered the film extensively on the Movies, Films and Flix Podcast (here and here), and it’s also been discussed on Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast. Check out the episodes!

Here’s the breakdown of Stallone’s hang time. Enjoy!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2021 11:13 am

    That was very fun and interesting! With a 90 min runtime that means Sly would have hung around for 3.2% of the movie. Yes, I calculated it (hopefully correctly).

    • November 8, 2021 11:14 am

      Thanks! It’s super random, but I love this dumb stuff.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 8, 2021 8:22 pm

      Rather unexpected that cliff-hanging ranked third among the various Sly-hanging styles. Even when combined with rope… the total is sub-ladder-hanging!

  2. John Leavengood permalink
    November 8, 2021 8:20 pm

    A blast from the past that I recall loving so much. Probably haven’t seen it since 2000-ish. Probably about time to dust it off.

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