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George At 

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Featured Movie Reviews

Rocky


An all-time sports movie classic with a behind-the-scenes rags to riches story of its own, 1976's original ROCKY still packs a punch.

Sylvester Stallone had appeared in small roles in Woody Allen's "Bananas" and "The Lords of Flatbush". His script for Rocky was a passion for him and he was eventually offered $350K for the screenplay. In a Rocky-like move, Stallone refused the money unless he could star in the film himself.

When producers Robert Chartoff & Irwin Winkler (The Right Stuff, Raging Bull) took a leap on him, Stallone began an incredible career in Hollywood that continues 42 years later.

Stallone stars as Rocky Balboa, a not-so-bright, talented boxer with more passion & heart than brains.

The first hour+ of the film is really a character study of this Philadelphia man scratching out a quiet life. His best friend Paulie (Burt Young) is a hard drinking, abusive loud mouth. Paulie's sister Adrian (Talia Shire) barely speaks, hiding underneath multiple sweaters and out-sized glasses as she tries to disappear within the pet shop where she works. Rocky visits her daily, hoping to talk her into a date.

Stallone's story takes its time, slowly unwrapping Rocky's life layer by layer.

Carl Weathers first film role was heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Every bit of Apollo is the opposite of Balboa. It's the balance of Creed's brash bravado vs. Rocky's impoverished modesty that quietly sets up a terrific final act.

When Rocky suddenly gets a shot for the title against Creed in a massive televised event, the film ramps up into one of the best sports movies ever made.

Burgess Meredith is fantastic as Mickey, Rocky's aging trainer. Over the years, I just remembered Mickey's signature one-liners, but I had forgotten how good Meredith was in the role.

The other star of the film is Bill Conti's music. BIG, brassy and in-your-face, it shouldn't work. If you'd told me that a chorus singing "Running hard now! It's so hard now! Gonna Fly Now!" was going to be the perfect backdrop for Rocky's training and ascent of those famous Philadelphia steps, I'd have laughed out loud.

It's still goosebumps generating after four decades.

Credit to Stallone and Director John G. Avildsen (Save The Tiger, The Karate Kid) for bringing in a real fight trainer to fully choreograph and stage the fight scenes. They are realistic, brutal and SO DAMN EXCITING!

I've seen this movie a dozen times and I was still on the edge of my seat and ready to leap out of it throughout the entire fight.

Great cast, strong storytelling and Stallone at his best.

Winner of Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editing and nominated for a total of 10 Academy Awards, ROCKY cost less than a million to make and grossed $117 million in the US alone. It was followed three years later by ROCKY II.

After all these years, ROCKY still goes the distance in style and gets an A.

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