1976 was a big year for Americans who celebrated 200 years of declared independence from the English monarchy. It also proved to be a good year for Sylvester Stallone who starred as Rocky Balboa in the first of five Rocky movies. In this film, Stallone plays an underachieving boxer who's never made it out of the small-time arena. Work as a debt collector keeps his own bills paid while he waits for a chance at a title.
Outside of the ring, Rocky courts the attentions of Adrian (Talia Shire), an awkward and painfully shy employee at the local pet shop. Bullied by her foul-mouthed brother, Paulie (Burt Young), she cowers behind outdated glasses and a battered self-image.
Then Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) comes to town. The reigning world heavy weight champion is scheduled to fight in Philadelphia at a bicentennial extravaganza but when his opponent backs out, this consummate showman has to find a new angle to bring in the crowds. His solution: find some local boxer and give him a Cinderella shot at the coveted belt. When Rocky is picked from the hometown crop of contenders, he has less than five weeks to prepare for the highly publicized match. Meanwhile, his unconventional workout routine on the city streets leaves the aspiring competitor blocking cheap shots from the media while enduring a grueling training schedule.
Sylvester Stallone took three days to write this movie's script after watching a fight between unknown boxer Chuck Wepner and Muhammad Ali. Filmed in 4 weeks at the final cost of 1.1 million, this story of a come-from-behind contender received three Academy awards in 1977 for Best Picture, Director, and Editing.
Graphic ringside scenes of boxing (including blood) make this classic a questionable choice for the Saturday morning cartoon crowd, but Rocky's million-to-one shot at realizing the American dream and proving himself against a formidable challenger may inspire teens who face their own battles. In real life, like reel life, the biggest challenge of all may be staying on your feet when things get a little rocky.