By John Tuttle (Cherry Valley, Illinois, USA)
Rocky was the first of what would become a series of movies based on Sylvester Stallone’s character Rocky Balboa, a.k.a. the “Italian Stallion,” an insignificant boxer. Written by and starring Stallone, the film has quite a bit of heart. Though a winner of three academy awards, I found the movie filled with many dry or sorrowful scenarios.
It’s one of those movies that primarily depicts only the monotonous drag of everyday life. A few delightful changes occur, however, such as Rocky going out on a successful date and then the total surprise of Rocky the rookie being picked to spar with the big-time boxer Apollo Creed.
Unlike The Karate Kid (1984) which would be produced less than a decade later, the first Rocky movie barely shows his fighting training, an aspect which is definitely depicted in greater detail in The Karate Kid. As someone who watched Karate Kid prior to Rocky, I was expecting this Sylvester Stallone picture to display how much strenuous work was put into preparing for the big fight, but it didn’t really touch on that.
Although, Rocky’s character is very persistent and displays endurance as well as humility. Throughout the film, we see how benevolent a character Rocky truly is. He does not have to be nice, yet that is his nature. When out collecting money from people who owe a man he works for, Rocky does not beat up the debtor as his boss would have preferred.
He doesn’t just whoop people for no reason to get his emotions out. Another example of his goodwill is shown when he walks a girl home and tries to give her a few helpful pointers on how to act like a lady. She just brushes him off and continues to call him names, but he tried. A viewer of the movie overflows with sympathy for Rocky, a good man at the core who has simply made some poor decisions. Overall, he is a rather mild-mannered type, and he has morals.
Just the fact that Rocky and Adrian, two oddballs like them, can be happy together proves the potency of a man and a woman’s love. Another virtue which both Rocky and Adrian seem to hold in high esteem is chastity. Even though they are unmarried and living under the same roof near the end of the film, the two of them are endeavoring to remain celibate.
Rocky may also be a somewhat religious man. In his apartment, a cross hangs above his bed. And right before going out to fight Apollo Creed he pauses, kneels, and shuts his eyes for a time. Think what you will, but I take this scene as a moment of silent contemplative prayer.
Well, Rocky’s training and prayers pay off as he is the only boxer to quote/unquote “tie” with world champion Apollo Creed, a pretty pompous person, almost the exact opposite personality of Rocky. Though he has won this great honor, it is now unimportant as far as he is concerned. He makes his way through the crowd in search of Adrian. Both members of the couple start desperately calling for one another. The very touching sequence closes with them finally being reunited, a happy ending.