Oscar Review: Rocky (1976)
Fitting for Valentine’s Day, our next Best Picture features the love story of a poor boxer and a shy pet store clerk. Ranking #78 of all time, #52 greatest thrill, and the title character is ranked #7 greatest film hero, Rocky is a classic.
Set in Philadelphia on the eve of the Bicentennial, we find Rocky Balboa (Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor nominee Sylvester Stallone) fighting both in and out of the ring as he struggles to make ends meet as an enforcer for a local bookie. Every morning and every afternoon as he works out at Mickey’s (Burgess Meredith) across the street, Rocky stops into the local petshop to get food for his turtles – Cuff and Link – to play with the dog Butkus, and to tell Adrian (Talia Shire) a new joke despite the discouraging words of her brother Paulie (Burt Young).
When a fighter drops out of the bout ahead of the July 4th extravaganza, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) draws on the “Italian Stallion,” a nobody from Philly, to live out the dream and have a shot at the title.
With his time short on training, the growing anxiety about going up against the best, and doubt that he has a chance at all Rocky knows that he can’t win. But can he go the distance?
A great film regardless of whether or not you are a fan of boxing, Rocky is a triumphant look at one man’s journey from the shadows of the old neighborhood into the spotlight of the American sporting world. Packed with tremendous heart and great writing by then-freshman screenwriter Stallone, one simple line stands out as the identifying mark of this great film: “Yo, Adrian!” (#80)
Winning only 3 of it’s 10 nominations that year, Rocky turned Sylvester Stallone into a serious star. Though none of the sequels quite matched the depth and power of the original (they rarely do) The Rocky Series has a place in American cinema for its portrayal of the ultimate underdog’s rise and the undying love affair of Rocky and Adrian.
It’s just plain good!