Rocky (1976) ★★★★★ 5/5
Until now, the only film of this series I had seen was Rocky IV, which I saw in the theater as a kid at the height of the Cold War. I did love that movie, James Brown's "Living In America" and Dolph Lundgren, but at the same time I didn't feel I ever needed to see any other movies from the film series. I mean really, what more could there possibly be to see after that spectacle of a film. I bring this up to give some insight into my attitude going into this movie. It was merely another one on the list.
I can actually say that I was wrong about that and I do see why this is such a great movie. Rocky is about so many things other then boxing. It is a story about the underdog. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is a third rate boxer from a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia. Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) is the world champion boxer looking for a competitor in the ring after his scheduled opponent gets injured. He decides to pick a local boy and give him the opportunity of a lifetime. It is a love story about a poor guy trying to win the affection of a lonely woman. Rocky woos Adrian (Talia Shire) and she stands beside him through the end. The film is about a man dealing with his own emotions as he watches his best friend move ahead in life. Paulie (Burt Young) sees Rocky become successful and find love while he himself struggles. There is also the story of a coach (Burgess Meredith) trying to reclaim what he had lost in his youth. There are also political issues. This is an American story which celebrates the 200th year anniversary of the United States. It is a story where black and white are pitted together without any sense of racism.
To my surprise, this was a great movie. I have never been a huge fan of Stallone, and never really took him as a serious actor . . . until now. In this film, Stallone looks good and portrays emotion. He is inexperienced as an actor, which makes his vulnerability even greater and his humanity even stronger. The tie in between the score, the story and the characters is flawless. I was surprised also that more of this film was about the emotional connections between the characters then it was about the boxing. Although the plot revolved around boxing, this is absolutely not a film about boxing.