A month ago if someone had asked me who directed The Karate Kid, I would have said John G. Avildsen without blinking.
If that same someone has asked me to name the director of Rocky I would have said John G. Avildsen without blinking, and tossed in, like the thirteenth of a baker's dozen, that he won the Oscar for it.
Only then would I have seen the connection. John G. Avildsen and the underdog movie. To be honest, I only saw the connection in this challenge.
Rocky was released in December of the U. S. bicentennial (1976), and is about as predictable a movie as you can get, and I don't care.
I love it, despite the fact that I cannot stand boxing. My father boxed in the Golden Gloves and wanted so badly for his son named Rocky to box. Alas, the closest I ever came to winning a fight was when I got my blood all over a dude's fist and he puked.
Performance wise, I want to mention Burgess Meredith as the elderly trainer Mickey. He saw Rocky as his last chance to be close to greatness in a not-so-glamorous profession, and the sadness in his eyes when Rocky initially rejected him went straight to my heart. What an amazing character actor. Hell, he played The Penguin in the U. S. TV series of Batman.
Talia Shire as Adrian did a nice job balancing the extreme shyness with the temper and passion.
All of this highlighted the true underdog story of Sylvester Stallone himself. He had a script that the studio producers liked, but they wanted a box office star like Redford, or Burt Reynolds in the lead.
Really? Robert Redford is amazing, but as The Italian Stallion? Oh, well. John Wayne did play Genghis Khan, and fell flat on his ass.
Fortunately, Stallone held firm.
He wanted to play Rocky Balboa himself. He got it, but the consequence was that the movie only had a budget of a million dollars. Even in 1975 and 1976, that was a pittance. They shot it in 28 days, not much time at all to shoot a movie.
Globally it made $225 million dollars. A real life underdog story in the American bicentennial. How cool!
It didn't matter that Rocky Balboa lost a split decision in a fight he never could have imagined himself in, except in a pipe dream.
He showed tremendous heart, made a great fight, and won the heart of Adrian!
9 out of 10. Had he won the fight against Apollo Creed ... 7 out of 10.
Hmmm. Rematch anyone? Stallone knew what he was doing.
Read Jodie's review here.
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Burgess Meredith actually signed the photo to me and not Rocky Balboa. :-)