HIDDEN GEMS: 10. ROCKY

HIDDEN GEMS showcases little-known film gems that have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week—”Rocky”

Long before “Raging Bull” made boxing films fashionable, former soft-core porn actor and muscle man Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in “Rocky,” a subtle and fascinating character study released in 1976. Rocky Balboa is a simple but honest man—an updated, working-class version of Lenny from Of Mice and Men. Sure, Rocky works as a strong-arm man for the local mobster, but he’s as likely to take pity on you as break your kneecaps. He has a cheerful word for everyone as he roams the neighbourhood, where he is something between a figure of fun and a local legend. Rocky’s also shyly attracted to the quiet girl, Adrian (Talia Shire), at the pet store, and he befriends her oafish, alcoholic, abattoir-working brother Paulie (Burt Young) in order to get close to her. He also boxes, worshipping his hero, Rocky Graziano; but the trainer at the gym, Mick (Burgess Meredith), has moved Rocky’s locker and considers him a washout who once had potential but who blew it with a lack of focus and poor fights. Rocky’s big chance comes, however, when the champion of the world, Apollo Creed—a transparent Muhammad Ali rip-off played by Carl Weathers—has a fight fall through and decides to give a local boy a chance.

Suddenly, the local stumble-bum becomes the hero with everyone wanting a piece of him. Rocky’s dilemma lies not only in facing up to the vastly superior fighter, Creed, but also in maintaining his own integrity and dignity. He accepts Mick’s help, accedes to Paulie’s demands, but remains his own man and doesn’t lose sight of the fact that his goal is no longer to become a great fighter so much as to keep the heart of the woman he loves.

Stallone has never been better, both as a writer and an actor, and it’s a real pity that the film wasn’t a bigger success. It would be nice to see a sequel telling the story of what happens to Rocky Balboa next.

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5 HISTORICAL INACCURACIES IN ROCKY IV

HOLLYWOOD – Everyone knows that Sylvester Stallone‘s 1985 boxing film Rocky IV was based on a real fight that took place in 1982 but despite writer/director/ star Stallone’s commitment to authenticity there are a few inconsistencies spotted by the eagle-eyed Studio Exec FACT squad.

1. Rocky’s Russian opponent, Ivan Drago, played in the film by Dolph Lungren, is portrayed as a muscle bound 6 ft 5 giant with blond hair and a wife called Ludmilla, played by Sylvester Stallone’s then wife Brigitte Nielsen, but in real life Ivan Drago was actually married to a woman called Ivana. 

2.  When Rocky initially refuses to fight Drago, old enemy turned friend Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weathers) takes on the challenge and is killed in the ring [Spoiler].  The pre-show has James Brown performing ‘Living in America’. In reality, James Brown sang a cover version of the Rolling Stones hit ‘Brown Sugar’.

3. Rocky’s brother-in-law Paulie (Burt Young) owns a comedy robot called Sico. Although not an inaccuracy as such, the film neglects to mention that this robot was developed by Skynet and would later be instrumental in taking over the world.

4. During the training sequence, Ivan is shown using high-tech equipment to supplement his training and Rocky by contrast goes running in the snow. In actual fact, Rocky Balboa occasionally punched computers as well, but only to destroy them because he feared that one day Skynet would take over the world. 

5. The conclusion of the film shows Rocky winning the fight and also winning over the affection of the Russian audience. He gives an inspirational speech which is applauded even by the General Secretary of the Communist Party, and which includes the passage ‘If I can change and you can change, then everyone can change.’ In actual fact, the real Rocky Balboa said: ‘I beat your best man you dirty commie bastards!’ and was chased from the stadium by an angry mob, almost unleashing nuclear Armageddon on the world.

For more FACTS click HERE!