Release Date: December 3, 1976
Director: John G. Avildsen
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith,
Tag Lines: “You have a ringside seat for the bloodiest bicentennial in history!”
“Meet the “Italian Stallion”: a small-time guy with big-time guts who yearns to be a hero…just once!”
“He’s a has-been battler with one dream left…and one last chance.”
“A Philadelphia fighter who never made the big time…He showed he could take on a challenge…and won something bigger than a championship bout.”
“A true hero goes all the way!”
“His whole life has been a million-to-one shot…Now, Rocky Balboa is about to show the world that he’s one-in-a-million.”
“His whole life was a million-to-one shot.”
Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Director, John G. Avildsen (winner), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Richard Halsey, Scott Conrad (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Sylvester Stallone (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Talia Shire (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Burgess Meredith (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Burt Young (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Sylvester Stallone (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Harry W. Tetrick, William L. McCaughey, Lyle J. Burbridge, Bud Apler (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Gonna Fly Now,” Bill Conti, Carol Conners, Ayn Robbins (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director, John G. Avildsen (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Sylvester Stallone (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Talia Shire (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Sylvester Stallone (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score, Bill Conti (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Direction, John G. Avildsen (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Sylvester Stallone (nomination),BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, Sylvester Stallone (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Richard Halsey (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Achievement in Motion Pictures, John G. Avildsen (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress, Talia Shire (winner), National Film Registry (2006), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, Talia Shire (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Talia Shire (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen, Sylvester Stallone (nomination).
Relevance: I didn’t see ‘Rocky’ in theaters. I was only five. The only Rocky I knew at that time was Rocky and Bullwinkle. I’m not exactly sure when I saw the movie but I do know that it was on HBO, so I will guess some time in the early 1980’s. Back in the early days of Home Box Office, there were premieres. Usually every first Saturday night of the month was the big movie that they were promoting. ‘Rocky’ was one of those movies.
I remember my family gathering around the television each in our own special seats with our blankets and snacks waiting to see the “World Premiere Presentation” introduction that they used to play. By the way that song is now playing in my head. If you remember the introduction, it is now playing in your head as well. You’re welcome. I also remember the beginning of the actual movie because it starts with a simple slow crawl of ‘Rocky’ with the iconic music “Gonna Fly Now” playing. I was very excited. But apparently not that excited as very soon after that I fell asleep.
Luckily for me, HBO repeated movies on what seemed a continuous loop. So I once again found myself in a similar situation waiting for the movie to play. And for the second time, I fell asleep. I know that I eventually saw the movie that month it played on HBO, but I don’t remember too much about it, except that it made me fall asleep…twice.
Regardless of me falling asleep, possibly due to Sylvester Stallone’s dulcet tones, I really did enjoy the character of Rocky Balboa. I have always loved the story of the underdog, even at that young age. To a ten or eleven year old, he was a hero. I eventually saw ‘Rocky II’ on HBO and then ‘Rocky III’ in theaters with friends. Each time a sequel was released I watched the original. My family owned it on VHS so it was readily available. And I could always stop it if I felt a little tired.
I grew to love the movie and now own it on DVD, not surprising as I own all of the Best Picture winners. Even if it didn’t win I would still own it. I am not a fan of boxing, and I am not a huge fan of Sylvester Stallone as an actor, but I love the story. David versus Goliath, small town boy beating the odds, never giving up on your dreams are all themes that excite me in cinema. They are the stories that no matter how many times I see them, give me chills.
Today’s Thoughts: I still got a few chills today when ‘Rocky’ started. That slow scroll from left to right of R O C K Y, while Bill Conti’s music played is perfection. Music is such an important component of film. For me the theme to ‘Rocky’ is right up there with ‘Star Wars’ as musical scores that pump me up. When I hear them, I know that things are going to be ok.
Sylvester Stallone is really great as Rocky Balboa. Kudos to him for writing the screenplay as well. He definitely knew his strengths as an actor when writing the charcter. My only real complaint about him as an actor is that he plays the same role over and over again. In this film though, there is a certain innocence to him. He’s likable. Lovable. Someone you want to see better his life. Someone you want to see win. And I love it.
The rest of the cast is wonderful as well, especially Burgess Meredith. I love Mickey and love his relationship he has with Rocky. He is harsh yet witty, a pain in the ass but charming. Next to Rocky, he is my favorite character in the film. One thing I noticed a lot more today than I have other viewings is what a complete asshole Burt Young is as Paulie. I wanted him to get punched numerous times. I know he eventually soothes in later films but in this movie he was a putz for sure. Well played by Mr. Young, but a putz.
Certain movies never get old. ‘Rocky’ is one such movie. Sadly the sequels, although some of them are decent, never reach the triumph that this one does. It is a classic that should be watched at least once by any student or fan of film making.
Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Philo, DVD Availability.