Release Year: 1976
Director: John G. Avildsen
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Thayer David, Joe Spinell
Ratting: Won 3 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing. Nominated for 7 Oscars: Best Actor (Sylvester Stallone), Best Actress (Talia Shire), Best Supporting Actor (Burgess Meredith), Best Supporting Actor (Burth Young), Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Original Song. Won 1 Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture – Drama. Nominated for 5 Golden Globes: Best Director, Best Actor – Drama (Sylvester Stallone), Best Actress – Drama (Talia Shire), Best Screenplay, Best Score.
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #107, week 26 2016
When small-time boxer and debt collector, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), gets an extremely rare change to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), it is his change to go the distance for the self-respect he needs.
Conceived by Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables, 2010) and realised through his dedication and love for the project, Rocky came out of nowhere and made Stallone a star overnight. On the surface a boxing movie, this has nothing to do with the sport as such; it is about Rocky Balboa himself and his quest for self-respect. He just happens to be a small-time boxer. Talkative and kind, Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky is gripping. He is a somewhat lonely guy, pushing thirty, with a number of small animals in his crummy apartment. He has mainly accumulated this petting zoo of his because he has a crush on the shy woman who works in the pet shop, Adrian (Talia Shire). She happens to be the sister of his best friend Paulie (a great Burt Young), and when he finally pushes his way into Adrian’s life, their journey together becomes part of his desire to prove his worth to himself. Weathers (Predator, 1987) is obnouxious (in a good way) as the self-absorbed heavy-weight champion, who invites Rocky to fight him as a publicity stunt, thinking the game will be a walk over. What he doesn’t know is that Rocky takes this once in a life time opportunity very seriously. Stallone’s script is excellent, the story simple but compelling, and filled with great characters; also worth mentioning is Burgess Meredith (Of Mice and Men, 1939) as the owner of the boxing club where Rocky trains who eyes an opportunity to give Rocky the help he himself never had, once he gets his shot at a big game that is. Set in a run down Philadelphia, with hummable music, and the mother of all training montages, Rocky is an unmissable classic of the 1970s. A great story of self-growth, a winning portrayal of an immortal cinematic character, and an ultimately moving piece of cinema. Highly recommended!
NB: The trailer contains some minor spoilers
Writer Sylverster Stallone was offered an unprecedented $350,00 for the script but refused to sell unless he could star in the film. This was despite the fact that he only had $106 in his bank account and was trying to sell his dog at the time because he couldn’t afford to feed it. The producers agreed and naturally he kept his dog; it appears in the film as Rocky’s dog Butkus.
The producers wanted to skip the scene in which Rocky admits his fears and doubts to Adrian the night before the fight because they were far behind schedule, but Stallone insisted it was kept in as he considered in the film’s most important scene. He was given one take to get it right.
During his audition for the part of Apollo Creed, Carl Weathers was sparring with Stallone and accidentally punched him on the cheek. Stallone told him to calm down as it was only an audience. Weathers replied that maybe if he was allowed to audition with a ‘real’ actor instead of a stand-in he would do better. When director John G. Avildsen told him that Stallone was both the star and the writer, Weather looked at him and said “Well, maybe he’ll get better”. Stallone immediately offered him the part.
Picture Copyright: MGM