Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Rocky (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
#78 (1998) and #57 (2007) on the AFI 100 Best American Movies List
Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and both written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. It tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted debt collector for a loan shark in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rocky starts out as a club fighter who later gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. It also stars Talia Shire as Adrian, Burt Young as Adrian's brother Paulie, Burgess Meredith as Rocky's trainer Mickey Goldmill, and Carl Weathers as the champion, Apollo Creed.
The film, made on budget of less than $1 million and shot in 28 days, was a sleeper hit; it made over $225 million the highest grossing film of 1976, and won three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film received many positive reviews and turned Stallone into a major star. It spawned five sequels: Rocky II, III, IV, V and Rocky Balboa.
* Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, an enforcer for a loan shark by day and a semi-pro boxer by night. He is given the chance at the heavyweight title.
* Talia Shire as Adrian Pennino, Rocky's love interest; a quiet pet store clerk who falls in love with Rocky and supports him through his training.
* Burt Young as Paulie Pennino, Adrian's brother; a meat-packing plant worker by trade, Paulie permits Rocky to train in the freezer.
* Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed, Rocky's opponent and heavyweight champion. The character was influenced by the outspoken, real-life boxing great Muhammad Ali.
* Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldmill: Rocky's manager and trainer, a former bantamweight fighter from the 1920s and the owner of the local boxing gym.
* Thayer David as George Jergens: the fight promoter who has "promoted fights all over the world".
* Joe Spinnell as Tony Gazzo, loan shark and Rocky's employer
Boxer Joe Frazier has a cameo appearance in the film. The character of Apollo Creed was influenced by outspoken boxer Muhammad Ali who fought Frazier three times. During the Academy Awards ceremony, Ali and Stallone staged a brief comic confrontation to show Ali was not offended by the film. Some of the plot's most memorable moments—Rocky's carcass-punching scenes and Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as part of his training regime—are taken from the real-life exploits of Joe Frazier, for which he received no credit.
Due to the film's low budget, members of Stallone's family played minor roles. His father rings the bell to signal the start and end of a round, his brother Frank plays a street corner singer, and his first wife, Sasha, was set photographer. Other cameos include Los Angeles television sportscaster Stu Nahan playing himself, alongside radio and TV broadcaster Bill Baldwin and Lloyd Kaufman, founder of the independent film company Troma, appearing as a drunk. Longtime Detroit Channel 7 Action News anchor Diana Lewis has a small scene as a TV news reporter. Tony Burton appeared as Apollo Creed's trainer, Tony "Duke" Evers, a role he would reprise in the entire Rocky series, though he is not given an official name until Rocky II.
The famous scene of Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art has become a cultural icon. In 1982, a statue of Rocky, commissioned by Stallone for Rocky III, was placed at the top of the Rocky Steps. City Commerce Director Dick Doran claimed that Stallone and Rocky had done more for the city's image than "anyone since Ben Franklin."
Differing opinions of the statue and its placement led to a relocation to the sidewalk outside the Philadelphia Spectrum Arena, although the statue was temporarily returned to the top of the steps in 1990 for Rocky V, and again in 2006 for the 30th anniversary of the original Rocky (although this time it was placed at the bottom of the steps). Later that year, it was permanently moved to a spot next to the steps
The scene is frequently parodied in the media. In The Simpsons episode "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can", Lisa Simpson runs up a flight of stairs wearing a tracksuit similar to the one worn by Rocky. In You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Zohan's nemesis, Phantom, goes through a parodied training sequence finishing with him running up a desert dune and raising his hands in victory. In the fourth season's finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as the credits roll at the end of the episode, Will is seen running up the same steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; however, as he celebrates after finishing his climb, he passes out in exhaustion, and while he lies unconscious on the ground, a pickpocket steals his wallet and his wool hat. Also in The Nutty Professor, there is a scene where Eddie Murphy is running up the stairs and throwing punches at the top.
In 2006, E! named the "Rocky Steps" scene #13 in its 101 Most Awesome Moments in Entertainment.
During the 1996 Summer Olympics torch relay, Philadelphia native Dawn Staley was chosen to run up the museum steps. In 2004, Presidential candidate John Kerry ended his pre-convention campaign at the foot of the steps before going to Boston to accept his party's nomination for President