For Christmas I got a copy of The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Sports Films of All Time from my sister Kathy. The number 1 movie in the book is Rocky.

Connected to that, for the past year I have been trying to convince Kate that Rocky is a really good movie. She would laugh off this suggestion every time I would try to tell her. I can see how it can be hard to see past the movies that follow. Hard to see past the cultural icon icon that Rocky has become. Most of our friends talk about Rocky III or Rocky IV when I bring up the idea. It is cool to be a fan of those movies ironically, but it is not cool to be a fan or Rocky in a sincer manor.

I finally got Kate to agree to watch Rocky with me. We sat down and in one day watched Rocky I-IV. That might have been a bit much, but it was still cool. At the end of Rocky Kate agreed it is a good movie. I think there is something to say about each of these movies. But I will start with Rocky.

I love the opening fight scene between Rocky and Spider Rico. I think this does a great job of showing the bottom of the fighting world in the 70s. You find out that Rocky gets $60 for winning and Spider Rico gets $40 for the loss. Rocky just beat his brains in and Spider Rico only gets $40, damn.

After the opening fight scene I notice about watching Rocky now is how slow the movie starts off. The next 20 minutes of the movie just drags. They take a long time introducing Rocky to you. This might seem unnecessary to someone watching it now, because Rocky is already an icon. They show how Rocky is a loser without any friends or family. Now it feels like they just take too long to tell this story.

There is a scene in that part of the movie where Rocky is looking at pictures he put up in his mirror. The photos of himself as a football player and what you assume is his father. You get the feeling that he feels he wasted his life. This scene almost seems out of place in this movie. It gives you the feeling that Rocky has some kind of internal life that he does not show, but it does not come up again in the movie. It is so easy to forget about this scene because it gets buried with the rest of the movie.

I had forgotten how much this movie is about relationships between misfits. Rocky and Adrian find each other and fall in love. They are both people who seem lost in the world. Rocky Mickey and Rocky have a contentious relationship. Mickey thinks Rocky has wasted his talent and puts him on Skid Row. Rocky thinks he deserves Mickey's respect. The fight between the two of them when Mickey wants to manage Rocky is great. I had forgotten all about these scene.

The key to the Rocky movie is his training for the fight. Yes this is one of those thing that have been done to death by now. By Rocky IV the training montage because absurd. Now a training montage is a lazy place to show the passage of time and improvement in an athlete. You have to be willing to release all of these ideas to enjoy Rocky. You have to remember this story telling technique was not a cliche in 1976.

I love seeing Rocky grow during this part of the movie. The first time he does his road word he can barely run through the streets of Philadelphia. He trains, spars against meat, runs some more, trains at the gym and changes in front or your eyes. The last training run in amazing. With the score of Gonna Fly Now, Rocky blazes through the city. He is ready for the fight.

I love Gonna Fly Now, it makes me tear up. There is a part in the bridge, where the strings are just going at it with just makes me want to fight the world champion. At the end of that final run, Rocky runs up the steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum. He is all alone jumping up and down, holding his hands up in victory. He has already won. No matter what happens in the fight, he wins.

For a long time the fight scenes in Rocky bothered me because they are not realistic. Any boxing fan can see how exaggerated they are. I realize now they are the difference between real martial arts and a Jackie Chan Movie. Thinking of it that way makes the boxing a little easy to stomach.

Apollo Creed's entry in the ring is great. He dresses up like George Washington and acts like he is crossing the Delaware. It is a great bit for 1976. Carl Weathers makes Apollo Creed work. He is as much of a business man as a boxer. Apollo Creed is a perfect contrast to Rocky Balboa.

I love the ending of Rocky. You have to remind people that Rocky losses at the end of Rocky. Getting to the end of the fight with the world champion is enough of a victory. How many sports movies end with the hero losing. I think it adds a lot to the movie.

I really think Rocky is a great movie. You have to put aside the baggage of Sylvester Stallone, the other Rocky movies, and every bad sports movie that rips Rocky off first. If you do those things, there is some great story telling and pretty good acting in this movie. It is one of the best sports movies of all time.

Best Sports Movie of all time
Best Boxing Movie of all time
Best Philadelphia Movie of all time
Best Sports Movie of the 70's

If you like the Rocky movie at all check out Rocky Jumps a Park Bench on You Tube
Best Boxing Movie of the 70's


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