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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Gwailo Corner: ROCKY (1976)


Year: 1976

Director: John G. Avilson

Writer: Sylvester Stallone


Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers, Joe Frazier (cameo)


Rocky Balboa (Stallone), a down-on-his-luck semi-pro boxer, gets the chance of a lifetime when world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Weathers) handpicks him for an exhibition bout. Meanwhile, Rocky tries to win the heart of Adrian (Shire), the extremely shy sister of his good friend, Paulie (Burt Young).

Training Montage:

Drinking raw egg yolks? Check. Punching frozen meat? Check. Set to Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now,” the iconic Rocky training montage gets its first iteration here, and it’s still uplifting all these years later. Admittedly, the training montage isn’t quite as exciting or as expertly cut together as later versions, but there’s something refreshingly un-self-conscious about Rocky’s run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in this initial entry.

The Big Match:

Despite the fact that it runs the full fifteen rounds, the actual match is really quite short and surprisingly less cinematic than later bouts. Still, the showdown between Creed and Balboa delivers the goods, and just like the “Rocky Steps” scene, it emanates a certain charming earnestness that can’t be beat.

Best Line:

“You’re gonna eat lightnin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder!” — Mickey (Burgess Meredith)


1977 Academy Awards
–>Winner — Best Picture
–>Winner — Best Director (John G. Avilson)
–>Winner — Best Film Editing (Richard Halsey, Scott Conrad)
–>Nomination — Best Actor (Sylvester Stallone)
–>Nomination — Best Actress (Talia Shire)
–>Nomination — Best Supporting Actor (Burt Young)
–>Nomination — Best Supporting Actor (Burgess Meredith)
–>Nomination — Best Original Screenplay (Sylvester Stallone)
–>Nomination — Best Music, Best Original Song (Bill Conti)
–>Nomination — Best Sound

Random Fact:

The budget for Rocky was $1.2 million. Final domestic gross? $117.2 million. That’s a $116 million profit. I don’t blame them for making a sequel.

Paulie’s A-Hole Factor:

Off-the-charts — he treats Adrian like garbage, running her down and blaming her for his own lot in life.

Final Decision:

The first Rocky is actually more about Rocky and his relationship with Adrian than it is about the final fight with Apollo Creed. Sure, the fight is crucial to the plot, as the film is at once a classic underdog story as well as a film about earning self-respect and “going the distance.” Even so, it’s very much a romance at heart, as two lonely misfits find each other, and, in the process, true love. What’s really striking about Rocky is that, for all the jokes about Stallone being monosyllabic, Rocky Balboa himself is actually an amazingly talkative guy. And very, very funny. As I’ve mentioned before, the film is raw in parts, making it quite different from the bigger-budgeted, more slickly produced sequels. And while I can’t deny that I enjoy the more polished marriage of images and sounds in later installments, there’s something so genuine in the first Rocky that makes it a hard film to dislike. No wonder it won an Oscar. (2007/2011)


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