DIRECTOR: John G Avildsen
Watching Rocky again one can instantaneously think of Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” film score as the image of Rocky running up the 72 steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The scene springs to mind.
There are a lot of memorable scenes in the film and even more memorable dialogue from all characters. There is Rocky (Stallone) and there is Apollo Creed ( Weathers). We also have Adrian (Shire), Paulie ( Young) and Mickey (Meredith). All of these characters want something. All of these characters want to live their dreams through Rocky’s new found luck as a heavyweight contender against Creed. As a film it shows Rocky trying to make ends meet and totally isolated. He talks to himself, lives in a rundown apartment but he means well. He has heart and wants a break. All he hears from those around him is dialogue of ” You’re a bum, you know that” or “You got heart but fight like an ape.” He works as muscle for a loan shark which hasn’t won him favours in the boxing gym.
The opportunity for him to fight the World Heavyweight Apollo Creed arises and that’s when he’s no longer the bum to people but the idea of success that others believe in around the local neighbourhood.
There is a key scene between Rocky and Mickey the boxing gym owner/trainer who now comes knocking on Rocky’s door asking to be the manager for Rocky. Mickey during the film calls it as he sees it and told Rocky where to stick it. Now he wants to tell Rocky about what happened to him as a boxer, how he can help the Italian Stallion win the upcoming fight. Rocky is down and disheartened that Mickey didn’t have the belief in him years ago only coming now when there is advantage to gain with this opportunity. There is a war of words from both men and we can understand the chip on each man’s shoulder that needs to be removed. In a way the film Rocky is about the removal of insecurity and that nasty chip on one’s shoulder. Rocky’s friend Paulie demands something from him, Creed is only wanting the fight for his personal gain. Everyone has self interest.
Rocky is not just a boxing a film. One could argue Rocky running the “Rocky steps” should have ended the film but it’s right in the middle of the film. Why? The boxing battle isn’t important. It is the strength and training to fight the battle Rocky wants the viewer to learn.
In the background Rocky’s relationship with Adrian is brewing and her character represents optimistic possibility for Rocky while training. Rocky needs the self confidence to chase her without restriction.
Rocky is the kind of film a person can rewatch on a lot of levels- sport, self belief, drama, romantic love, suburban life, or even watching an unknown Stallone become a superstar.
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky
Talia Shire as Adrian
Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed
Burt Young as Paulie
Burgess Meredith as Mickey