Some fans, movie fans and boxing fans alike, prefer the intensity and the brutality of ‘Raging Bull’ when it comes to the greatest boxing film ever made. But a whole lot of us love ‘Rocky,’ the original film and what the very character stands for: the underdog of underdogs rising to the top. The classic film spawned five sequel and three spin-offs, but it is the first film, from 1976, that ranks as the most special.
The film was released in America on December 3rd of 1976, and tomorrow in Philadelphia, where the film is set, of course, it will be “Rocky Day” in “The City of Brotherly Love.” The WBC reports how Sylvester Stallone himself, the creator and portrayer of the so easy to root for ‘Rocky Balboa,’ will be in town, the movie legend to appear at the Parkway Visitor Centre tomorrow morning.
It was of course up the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that ‘Rocky’ ran as the soaring soundtrack played in the ever so inspirational film. And today, when he visits Philly, Stallone has to take a walk up the “Rocky Steps.”
“This day is incredible for me and for the people who have welcomed Rocky into their hearts,” Stallone said. “When I am in Philadelphia and I walk up the stairs, it touches my soul like it did when I was younger. This is a very special place in a very special city….Believe me, there is no other place like this in the world.”
The “Rocky Steps” attract millions of tourists and fans each year, and almost all of them are unable to resist running up the steps (see the ending credits of ‘Rocky Balboa’ from 2006). Tomorrow, there are sure to be plenty of fight fans, film fans, and ‘Rocky’ fans in attendance. Almost fifty years on, and ‘Rocky’ remains a joy to watch. Stallone, at the time an unknown, almost totally broke actor/writer who got his moment of inspiration after watching real-life “Ham ‘N’ Egger” Chuck Wepner push reigning heavyweight king Muhammad Ali all the way (well, almost, Chuck falling in the fading seconds of the 15th and final round in the fight of March, 1975).
Stallone is said to have written the ‘Rocky’ screenplay in just three-and-a-half days. The movie brass at United Artists loved the story, yet there were not so keen on Stallone playing the lead role himself. Despite being badly in need of money, Sly turned down some generous offers, the stipulation that another actor play ‘Rocky’ being something he simply could not agree to. Stallone stuck to his guns and how he made the film work.
Again, some fans may point to ‘Raging Bull,’ others to ‘On The Waterfront,’ others still to ‘Fat City.’ But for millions of us, it’s ‘Rocky’ when it comes to the best, most loved boxing film of them all. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t enjoy watching ‘Rocky!?’
Stallone, Burgess Meredith, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burt Young, and the entire supporting cast (which includes the one and only Joe Frazier, who makes a short cameo near the end of the film, along with fellow real-life slugger Pedro Lovell, who plays ‘Spider Rico’) really did a superb job. And the film, with a lowly budget of just $860,000, went on to rake in a staggering $225 million.
If you live in Philly, you should do yourself a favour and show up for “Rocky Day” tomorrow.