×

Rocky

With:
Rocky - Sylvester Stallone Adrian - Talia Shire Paulie - Burt Young Apollo - Carl Weathers Mickey - Burgess Meredith Jergens - Thayer David Gazzo - Joe Spinell Himself - Joe Frazier Marie - Jodi Letizia

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075148/?ref_=nv_sr_1

If ever a recent offbeat film project had some high-horsepower sponsorship, it’s “Rocky.” Sylvester Stallone stars in his own screenplay about a minor local boxer who gets a chance to fight a heavyweight championship bout. Some genuinely strong emotional impact emerges from the heavy environment of street grime and gymnasium sweat provided by director John G. Avildsen and producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. The p.r. juggernaut is already at high speed, though the public might well be given a chance to discover the United Artists release for itself.

There are “Marty” overtones in abundance here, and that’s a strong commercial omen for the $1,000,000 gamble herein. The very best way to enjoy “Rocky” is not to examine it too carefully; better simply to relax and roll with the Walter Mitty, Cinderella, or what-have-you notion that the least of us still stands a chance of making it big.

Stallone’s title character is that of a near-loser, a punchy reject scorned by gym owner Burgess Meredith, patronized by local loan shark Joe Spinell (for whom Stallone is too-sympathetic a strong-arm collection agent), rebuffed by plain-Jane Talia Shire whose brother, Burt Young, keeps engineering a romantic match. Even Jodi Letizia, latent teenage tramp, has contempt for him.

Rocky would have remained in this rut, had not heavyweight champ Carl Weathers come up with the Bicentennial gimmick of fighting a sure-ringer, thereby certifying the American Dream for public consumption. Fight promoter Thayer David (remembered so well as the professional and moral arsonist in Avildsen’s “Save the Tiger”) puts the machinery in motion. To everyone’s surprise, Rocky trains arduously. In the climactic (and cinematically powerful) fight sequence, Rocky goes the whole route to an exciting fadeout draw which is reminiscent of the climax of Robert Aldrich’s “The Longest Yard” two years ago.

En route all this, Stallone brings out the best in Shire, exposes the worst in Young and generally gets his life together. The story-telling pace justifies nicely its 119-minute length. Performances, direction and production all contribute importantly. But…

While art by definition must trigger certain emotional responses, occasionally there’s too-obvious a feeling of really being manipulated and stroked. Fact that Rocky gets his big chance from cynical schemers–with a black public hero as the instigator–rests uneasily at moments. Then there are occasional flashes that the film may be patronizing the lower end of the blue-collar mentality, as much if not more than the characters who keep putting Rocky down on the screen. However, Avildsen is noted for creating such ambiguities.

To repeat, best not to dwell on the film. Better to let the smoggy fairy tale run its course and allow general audience patrons their own unique word of mouth propulsion. Pre-release certification of triumph along with a barrage of favorable expert opinion is not unlike playing with fire.

Murf.

1976: Best Picture, Director, Editing.

Nominations: Best Actor (Sylvester Stallone), Actress (Talia Shire), Supp.Actor (Burgess Meredith, Burt Young), Story & Screenplay, Best Song (‘Gonna Fly Now’), Sound

Popular on Variety

Rocky

Production: United Artists. Director John G. Avildsen; Producer Irwin Winkler; Screenplay Sylvester Stallone.

Crew: Camera (DeLuxe Color), James Crabe; editors Richard Halsey, Scott Conrad; music, Bill Conti; songs, Conti, Frank Stallone Jr.; production design, Bill Cassidy; art direction, James H. Spencer; set decoration, Raymond Molyneaux; sound, Ray Alba, Burt Schoenfeld, B. Eugene Ashbrook; costumes-wardobe, Joanne Hutchinson, Robert Cambel; asst. director, Fred Gallo. Reviewed at MGM Studios, Culver City. Oct. 28, '76. (MPAA Rating: PG.) Running Time, 119 MINS.

With: Rocky - Sylvester Stallone Adrian - Talia Shire Paulie - Burt Young Apollo - Carl Weathers Mickey - Burgess Meredith Jergens - Thayer David Gazzo - Joe Spinell Himself - Joe Frazier Marie - Jodi Letizia

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content