1976 was important year in the film industry. Notable movies like All The President’s Men, Network, Taxi Driver, Carrie, Assault On Precinct 13, The Omen, The Enforcer just to name a few.
Notable Famous people were born including Benedict Cumberbatch, Reese Witherspoon, Cillian Murphy, Ryan Reynolds, Rashida Jones, Charlie Day, Colin Farrell, Jon Bernthal & Seann William Scott.
One film in particular reflects a then unknown Sylvester “Sly” Stallone struggling to make it big as an actor, he didn’t have much money to support himself. After watching a boxing match between Muhammad Ali & Chuck Wepner competing for the world championship, Sly immediately wrote a screenplay based on his real life struggle and boxing match. Instead of the main character trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood, a well known boxer picks the protagonist for a chance to be a somebody.
Producers of film studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer” were impressed with Sly’s screenplay as a fresh realistic take on the underdog story.
Rocky came out in November, earning critical acclaim from many critics and movie goers alike. Roger Ebert dubbed Sly as “the next Marlon Brando.” The film became the number one movie of the year at the box office grossing $225 million. (equivalent of $967 million)
My dad and his family went to a drive-in theater to see Rocky. He told me a story about it. Then he offered me to watch it with him. I would like to credit him for introducing me to Sylvester Stallone & the Rocky franchise since I was a kid.
Rocky went on to win a Golden Globe for “Best Drama” & an Academy Award for “Best Picture.” Thus, Sly made a name for himself as one of the highest paid A-list actors of today.
Rocky spawned a franchise consisting five sequels, a spin-off focusing on Rocky passing the torch to Apollo’s son, an upcoming sequel to Creed, merchandise featuring action figures, video games, t-shirts & costumes.
Famous people such as James Rolfe/The Angry Video Game Nerd & Walter Banasiak (a member of Channel Awesome) listed Rocky as one of their favorite movies and they’re passionate fans of the series.
Before Creed II comes out, I’ve decided to look back at each Rocky movie starring with the one that started it all.
Victory & Defeat Aspects
Victory: Sylvester Stallone did an outstanding job for his performance as the eponymous character. He also wrote the screenplay.
Fun Fact: Before Sly decided to headline the film, a few actors including Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds & James Caan were possible candidates to play Rocky, but Sly couldn’t afford a high profile actor due to a strict budget, so he was paid $23,000 for acting & writing in order to financially secure the film.
Other Cast Members such as Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, (Francis Ford Coppola’s real life sister) Burt Young & Burgess Meredith all did an amazing job for their respective performances.
John G. Avildsen (The Karate Kid, Lean On Me) did a decent job directing the film.
Cinematography looked good without suffering from technical flaws.
Chemistry between Rocky & Adrian felt natural.
Character Development involving Rocky. He goes from a reluctant loan shark to a determined underdog who gets a chance to become a somebody and learns to respect himself.
Adrian also earns Character Development. She goes from a quiet shy girl, to a loving and caring girlfriend who finally grows a spine. She’s the spark to Rocky’s fuse.
Primary Theme focuses on using your natural gift to make it big, rather than automatically gaining it. Much like Goku from Dragon Ball Z, Rocky’s natural talent is fighting. Using your natural gift can help give you a chance to obtain a stable job.
A poster of Rocky Marciano is one of the inspirations of the character as well as his idol.
If you’re new to the Rocky franchise, don’t expect this to be an all out boxing film. It’s basically a character driven sports drama.
The iconic training montage sequence played a pivotal role by demonstrating Rocky is willing to take a challenge by getting in shape. He needs all that training if he’s gonna make it to the big leagues. The training montage scene is parodied in many works.
The theme song is unforgettable. It’s often parodied in many films, television shows among other junk.
Rocky’s character arc reflects Sly in his early years of his acting career struggling to become a somebody in the film industry and financially support himself.
Rocky mentioned that he’s 30 years old. In real life, Sly turned 30 the exact same year the film came out.
Sly’s childhood photo of himself was used as a prop.
Apollo is based on late boxer, Muhammad Ali.
My favorite line from Mickey is, “You’re gonna eat lightning & you’re gonna crap thunder!”
At one point, Rocky said, “Is he talkin’ to me?” Coincidentally, Robert De Niro said the famous line from Taxi Driver, “You talkin’ to me?” Both Sly & Bob went on to co-star as rival boxers in Grudge Match. Both Rocky & Taxi Driver we’re nominated at the Oscars.
If you live in Philadelphia or planning a vacation to visit the city, you can actually recreate Rocky running his way to the Philadelphia Museum Of Art. Don’t forget to put on your grey sweatpants & grey sweatsuit if you want to pay tribute to an iconic scene. You can also locate the statue from Rocky III as icing on the cake.
The climatic boxing match between Rocky & Apollo kept me entertained after a long awaited proper build up. To be honest I never got bored.
Defeat: Product Placement featuring brands including Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, Coca-Cola & 7-Up. I’ll give this a pass, because anything sports related sponsors a product.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Rocky is arguably the best boxing movie of all time. Sly Stallone did an incredible job for acting & writing the film. If you’re new to the Rocky series or want to refresh your memory before Creed II comes out, I strongly recommend the one that made Sly a powerhouse actor.