Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1976. Chartoff-Winkler Productions. Screenplay by Sylvester Stallone. Cinematography by James Crabe. Produced by Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler. Music by Bill Conti. Production Design by William J. Cassidy. Costume Design by Joanne Hutchinson. Film Editing by Scott Conrad, Richard Halsey. Academy Awards 1976. Golden Globe Awards 1976.
Sylvester Stallone wrote and stars in this subtle drama that took audiences by storm in the seventies and inspired a string of unremarkable sequels. He plays a Philadelphia loan shark’s runner who once had dreams of being a great boxer but now only hits the ropes every once in a while to keep his skills sharp. After falling in love with an introverted woman (Talia Shire), Rocky is inspired to make more of himself when a famous boxer (Carl Weathers) decides to give an unknown athlete the chance to compete with him for a title championship, and chooses Rocky after spotting him working out in his gym. Rocky has no intention of conquering the world, all he wants is his chance to ‘go the distance’. John G. Avildsen’s sense of realistic spontaneity is what makes this one zing, a truly familiar story told in a refreshingly new and honest way. Stallone is great in the lead, though regrettably his career choices following this meant he would never be taken seriously as an actor again. Shire is adorably likable as the love interest, and there’s also terrific supporting work by Burt Young as Shire’s protectively loving brother and Burgess Meredith as Rocky’s trainer.