Revisiting 40 years of Sylvester Stallone's Rocky
"Rocky will never die because he lives in you," wrote Sylvester Stallone, who has been starring as Rocky Balboa in eight different movies since 1976 and has now announced his last take on the legendary role.
A rags to riches American Dream story
The uneducated Italian-American Rocky Balboa works as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia. While the 30-year-old aspiring boxer is considered too old to become a professional star, his chance comes when the heavyweight boxing world champion Apollo Creed needs a last minute replacement. Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in the 1976 drama that introduced an entire saga.
More than a sports film
"Rocky" is also a love story. The boxer falls in love with a pet store employee called Adrian (Talia Shire). His fight to win her heart is at least as thrilling as the action in the boxing ring. A pure sports drama wouldn't have been as uplifting.
A metaphor for the rise of an underdog
In his daily training ritual, Rocky famously climbs the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and raises his arms in a victory pose. The motif is so famous that tourists now copy Rocky's climb when they visit the location also known as the "Rocky Steps." Bill Conti's song "Gonna Fly Now," which accompanies the sequence, is just as iconic and has become a classic at sports events.
A detailed choreography
Whether fighting against Apollo Creed in the first "Rocky" or Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV" (picture), every fight is thoroughly choreographed. ''What looked like haphazard throwing of punches was an exact ballet," Stallone once told The New York Times about the final fighting scene in his 1976 film. '''There were 14 pages of left, right, right, left, left hook,'' he said.
An award-winning hit
While the budget of the first film was of just over $1 million, it unexpectedly became the highest-grossing film of the year when it came out in 1976. It won three Oscars, including for best picture, and Sylvester Stallone obtained two Academy Award nominations, as best actor and for the best original screenplay. The critically-acclaimed hit went on to spawn seven sequels.
An aging boxer
Over the last four decades, fans have aged alongside Sylvester Stallone and his famous character. In the seventh and eighth installment of the series, titled "Creed," Rocky Balboa is the trainer of the illegitimate son of the late champion Apollo Creed. "Creed II" will apparently be Stallone's last Rocky movie. "Now you have to carry the mantle," he told the new franchise star, Michael B. Jordan.