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Rocky and all its subsequent sequels shouldn’t have worked. It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times before – guy from the wrong side of town gets a shot at the big time – but the fundamental difference here is that we bought into the hero rather than the story.
We all have our favourite Rocky film. Perhaps it was the first one, where the enforcer for a small-time hoodlum gets a shot at the world title while trying to court the painfully shy Adrian and puts us through 15 rounds of brutal, emotion-draining, hell-for-leather boxing.
Maybe it was Rocky II. The wedding, the cringe-worthy attempts at making a commercial for cheap aftershave and then realising he’s got no money left, goes back into the ring with his nemesis Apollo Creed?
What about Rocky III? Even now when we hear Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ we walk slightly more upright and puff our chests out just a little more, but what about Mr T’s Clubber Lang, Mickey dying and Rocky suffering a crisis of confidence until Apollo steps in?
For some it was Rocky IV. USA vs. Russia in a fight to the death. Avenging the death of his friend Apollo at the hands of fighting machine Ivan Drago and defending the honour of America, another vicious, brutal fight ensues and we are ‘treated’ to arguably one of the worst tracts of dialogue in film history with Rocky’s post-fight ‘if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change’ speech.
Regardless of which Rocky film is your favourite, what Stallone presented us with was films that didn’t set out to rewrite the rulebook. We have tender warmth and gritty drama, exhilarating highs and depressing lows. There are difficult family relationships and heroism and potential we can buy into and root for. Is it a boxing film or is it a ‘triumph against all odds’ emotional rollercoaster? We genuinely care about Rocky, thanks to a magnificent script and impeccable casting but also thanks to Stallone for bringing Rocky into our homes and leaving him there.
Maybe the best endorsement of the franchise is that whenever you are flicking through your Sky programme guide, you ALWAYS stop when you see a Rocky film.
Some of our favourite Rocky quotes…
Mickey: You’re gonna eat lightening and you’re gonna crap thunder!
Adrian: Why do you wanna fight?
Rocky: Because I can’t sing or dance.
Apollo Creed: Look, it’s the name man. The I-talian Stallion. The media will eat it up. Now who discovered America? An Italian, right? What better way to get it on than with one of its descendants?
Apollo’s Trainer: He’s a southpaw. I don’t want you messing with southpaws. They do everything backwards.
Apollo Creed: Southpaw nothing. I’ll drop him in three. Apollo Creed meets the Italian Stallion. Now that sounds like a damn monster movie.
Rocky: Cut me Mick.
Rocky: I just want to say hi to my girlfriend, OK? Yo, Adrian! It’s me, Rocky.
Rocky: I was wonderin’ if, uh, you wouldn’t mind marryin’ me very much.
Clubber Lang: No, I don’t hate Balboa. I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got!
Rocky: I see three of him out there.
Paulie: Hit the one in the middle.
Nicoli Koloff: Whatever he hits, he destroys.
Drago: If he dies, he dies.
Duke, Rocky’s Trainer: He’s worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a machine, he’s a man!
Duke, Rocky’s Trainer: To win you gotta knock him out! You gotta punch and punch and punch till you can’t punch no more! This is your whole life!
An estimated 800 schoolchildren were used as extras in the scene in Rocky II where he runs through Philadelphia!
At the 1977 Academy Awards, Rocky won the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing Oscars and was nominated for seven more, including Best Actor and Best Actress for Stallone and Shire and Best Supporting Actor for Meredith and Young.
Rocky’s address in the first film is 1818 East Tusculum Street. When Rocky does his famous run to the Philadelphia Art Museum (located at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway), if he took the most direct route he would run 5.29 miles. In Rocky II, his run takes him from 2313 South Lambert Street to the Philadelphia Art Museum, a distance of 30.61 miles!
Rocky’s name is actually Robert Balboa but Stallone took inspiration from boxing legend Rocky Marciano.
It took Stallone and two editors over eight months to pull together the final fight scene in Rocky II.
According to an interview given by Mr. T, he attended the Rocky III premiere with his mother. During the scene where he yells at Adrian, his mother turned to him and said ‘I did not raise you to talk to a lady like that’ and stormed out of the cinema!
The theme to Rocky III was a toss-up between ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen!
The ‘Russian’ training scenes in Rocky IV were actually filmed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming!
The Stars of Rocky – Where Are They Now?
Look up the phrase ‘action hero’ in the dictionary and you’ll see a photograph of Sly Stallone. After Rocky came Escape to Victory, the Rambo series, Cobra, Over the Top, Tango & Cash, Demolition Man, Judge Dredd and Copland. He married Brigitte Nielsen after Rocky IV but was divorced 18 months later. Most recently he wrote, directed and starred in The Expendables, a who’s who of Hollywood tough guys, including Willis, Statham, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Jet Li and Steve Austin!
A film career was basically guaranteed given her brother is Francis Ford Coppola, she’s Nicholas Cage and Sofia Coppola’s aunt and her father, uncle and first husband were all composers. Adrian Pennino in the Rocky films and Connie Corleone in the Godfather trilogy are her most celebrated roles, but she has appeared in dozens of films and TV movies from the late 60s to the present day.
Typecast as a tough-talking Italian-American, Paulie Pennino was followed by Vito Graziosi in Micky Blue Eyes and Joe in Once Upon a Time in America. He has appeared in TV shows such as The Rockford Files, M*A*S*H, Miami Vice and The Sopranos as well as being an accomplished painter and author.
An exceptionally talented actor in the 1930s who served in the US Air Force during WWII. He had a number of television roles in the 1960s but he is best known for playing grumpy boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill. An ardent environmentalist, he died at home in Malibu in 1997 aged 89.
A former Oakland Raiders linebacker, his most famous role was Apollo Creed (loosely based on Muhammad Ali), and he appeared as Dillon in Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Younger viewers may know him as Chubbs Peterson in Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore and Little Nicky.
Laurence Tureaud is best known for his role as BA Baracus in The A-Team and was a former wrestling champion in Chicago. He was a bouncer and bodyguard (to Steve McQueen, Muhammad Ali and Diana Ross), and was spotted by Stallone competing in America’s Toughest Bouncer. He was a pro wrestler but never quite reached the heights of his early 80s exploits.
A 6’0” Danish model who has been married five times with four sons. She appeared in Red Sonja, Rocky IV and Beverly Hills Cop II and then flirted with the music business. The last few years have seen her doing the rounds of the reality TV genre across Europe.
He hit stardom with Rocky IV and if you’re looking for a classic, chiselled-jawed, 6’5” Scandinavian super-hero, he’s your go-to guy. A string of action film roles followed Drago and was most recently in The Expendables with his other muscle clad chums.