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Rocky Movie Review

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1976 – John G. Avildsen –

The success and appeal of Rocky lies largely in its simple yet moving story of challenging the odds. The story of making Rocky is a lot like the movie script. Sylvester Stallone, with bit parts in several movies but no career, wrote the story, his 33rd attempted screenplay and submitted it, stipulating that he play the lead. Producers balked, looking at other, more bankable leads, but Stallone held his ground. Much like the boxer himself, the movie went the distance, coming out of nowhere to win best picture at the Academy Awards.

Rocky Balboa (Stallone) is a poor, well-liked, decent man who boxes for extra money to make ends meet. He gets the opportunity to prove himself when offered the chance to fight the famous world champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Although no one, especially Creed and his promoters (who conceive of the match as a publicity event), expects Rocky to have even a remote chance of defeating the world champion, Rocky decides to seize the opportunity to prove to himself and to others that he is capable of becoming more than his disadvantaged, humble origins would seem to allow for him.

A simple, honest, hardworking Everyman type who wonders whether he is capable of escaping the lot that life has cast at him, Rocky seizes upon a dream and embarks on a quest to prove his ability to withstand unbeatable odds. Holding his own against Creed all the way to the fight's finish is what matters to him, not winning. In his quest to prepare himself for the grand battle, Rocky finds a trainer and mentor in Mickey (Burgess Meredith), a wise, gruff old man who recognizes that Rocky has the heart of a winner. Along the way, Rocky also finds love with the shy but intelligent Adrian (Talia Shire), a woman he helps out of her reclusive, sheltered life. In return, she helps fill the gaps in his life and becomes an anchor of support for him. The scenes in which Rocky and Adrian draw closer together, such as their first date when Rocky takes Adrian ice skating, provide some of the most interesting and touching moments in the story, for with all their opposite qualities it is clear that the two really do complement each other.

Rocky is in many ways a mythic hero. The love story with Adrian and the mentor-student relationship with Mickey are archetypal staples of the classic quest tale, and, in the end, as simple as the story may be, it is ultimately satisfying in that it demonstrates the idea that anybody, regardless of origins, background, or situation, can seize upon a dream and pursue it to its fulfillment.

A battered Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) with his beloved Adrian (Talia Shire).

Cast: Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa), Talia Shire (Adrian), Burt Young (Paulie), Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed), Burgess Meredith (Mickey), Thayer David (Jergens), Joe Spinell (Gazzo), Jimmy Gambina (Mike), Bill Baldwin (Flight Announcer), Aldo Silvani (Cut Man), George Memmoli (Ice Rink Attendant), Jodi Letizia (Marie), Diana Lewis (TV Commentator), George O'Hanlon (TV Commentator), Larry Carroll (TV Interviewer) Screenwriter: Sylvester Stallone Cinematographer: James Crabe Composer: Bill Conti Producer: Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler for United Artists MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 119 minutes Format: VHS, LV, DVD Awards: Academy Awards, 1976: Director (John G. Avildsen), Film Editing, Picture; Nominations: Actor (Sylvester Stallone), Actress (Talia Shire), Song, Sound, Supporting Actor (Burgess Meredith, Burt Young), Original Screenplay (Sylvester Stallone); Directors Guild of America, 1976: Director (John G. Avildsen); Golden Globe Awards, 1977: Film—Drama; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, 1976: Film; National Board of Review Awards, 1976: 10 Best Films of the Year, Supporting Actress (Talia Shire); New York Film Critics Awards, 1976: Supporting Actress (Talia Shire) Budget: $1M Box Office: $117M.

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