Rocky is a 1976 film written by and starring Sylvester Stallone and directed by John G. Avildsen. It tells the rags-to-riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, a seemingly unintelligent but good-hearted debt collector for a loan shark in Philadelphia. Balboa is also a professional boxer who gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship when the scheduled contender breaks his hand. Also starring in Rocky are Talia Shire as Adrian, Burt Young as Adrian's brother Paulie, Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldmill, Rocky's trainer and Carl Weathers as the champion, Apollo Creed.

The film, made for only $1.2 million, and shot relatively fast in 28 days, was a sleeper hit; it made over US $117.2 million, won three Oscars, including Best Picture, and garnered mostly positive reviews which helped to launch Stallone's career. The film spawned five sequels: II, III, IV, V and Rocky Balboa.

Sylvester Stallone's original concept for Rocky, and the character Rocky Balboa, was inspired by his viewing of a fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner. The idea of an underdog boxer going the distance and putting up a fierce fight against all odds appealed to Stallone. Stallone then wrote the screenplay Paradise Alley. After reading that script, producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff invited Stallone to meet them. Stallone brought up his idea for Rocky, Chartoff was impressed with the concept and he and Winkler agreed to support Stallone financially while he wrote the script, with the understanding they would get to see the script first.

Certain elements of the story were altered during filming. The original script had a darker tone: Mickey was portrayed as racist and the script ended with Rocky throwing the fight after realizing he did not want to be part of the professional boxing world after all.

Although Winkler and Chartoff were enthusiastic about the script, they were at first somewhat hesitant to allow Stallone to play the main character. The producers also had trouble casting other major characters in the story, with Adrian and Apollo Creed cast unusually late by production standards (both were ultimately cast on the same day). According to The Rocky Scrapbook, Carrie Snodgress was originally chosen to play Adrian, but a money dispute forced the producers to look elsewhere. Talia Shire's ensuing audition along with Avildsen, Chartoff and Winkler insisted that she play the part.

Garrett Brown's Steadicam was used to accomplish a smooth shot running alongside Rocky during his training run up the flight of stairs. It was also used for some of the shots in the fight scenes, and can even be openly seen at the ringside during some wide shots of the final fight. (Rocky is often erroneously cited as the first film to use the Steadicam, although the distinction actually goes to Bound for Glory as the first production to use it. Marathon Man also has a claim, as it premiered prior to either film.) The final fight scene was filmed in reverse order, with the actors starting out in heavy make-up.

Rocky Balboa is introduced as an enforcer for a loan shark who boxes on the side. The World Heavyweight Championship bout is scheduled for New Year's Day 1976, the year of the United States Bicentennial. When the opponent of undefeated heavyweight champion Apollo Creed is injured, Creed comes up with the idea of fighting a local Philadelphia underdog and, because he is known as "The Italian Stallion," Creed selects Rocky.

To prepare for the fight, Rocky trains with 1920s-era ex-bantamweight fighter Mickey Goldmill, while Rocky's best friend Paulie, a meat-packing plant worker, lets him practice his punches on the carcasses hanging in the freezers. During training, Rocky courts Paulie's quiet sister, Adrian. The night before the fight, Rocky confides in Adrian that he does not expect to beat Creed, and that all he wants is to go the distance with Creed, meaning last 15 rounds against him (the typical scheduled length of championship fights at the time).

Creed does not take the fight seriously, but this changes when Rocky surprisingly knocks down Apollo early in the first round.The fight indeed lasts 15 rounds with each fighter suffering many injuries. After the fight, he calls out for Adrian, who runs down to the ring. As Creed is announced the winner by split decision, Adrian and Rocky embrace, and Rocky tells her he loves her.

Main cast

* Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, an enforcer for a loan shark by day and a semi-pro boxer by night. He is given the chance at the heavyweight title.
* Talia Shire as Adrian Pennino, Rocky's love interest. Adrian is a quiet pet store clerk who falls in love with Rocky and supports him through his training.
* Burt Young as Paulie Pennino, Rocky's close friend and Adrian's brother. A meat-packing plant worker by trade, Paulie permits Rocky to train in the freezer.
* Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed, Rocky's opponent and heavyweight champion. The character was influenced by the outspoken, real-life boxing great Muhammad Ali.
* Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldmill, Rocky's manager and trainer, a former bantamweight champion from the 1920s and the owner of the local boxing gym.

With the character of outspoken Apollo Creed influenced by Muhammad Ali, one interesting detail is the cameo appearance of Joe Frazier, another real-life former world heavyweight champion who fought Ali three times. During the Academy Awards ceremony, Ali and Stallone staged a brief comic confrontation to show Ali was not offended by the film.

Due to the film's low budget, members of Stallone's family played minor roles. His father rings the bell to signal the start and end of a round, his brother plays a street corner singer, and his first wife, Sasha, was the set photographer. Other cameos include Los Angeles television sportscaster Stu Nahan playing himself, alongside radio and TV broadcaster Bill Baldwin and Lloyd Kaufman, founder of the longest-running independent film company Troma, appearing as a drunk. Long time Detroit Channel 7 Action News anchor Diana Lewis has a small scene as a TV news reporter. Tony Burton appeared as Apollo Creed's trainer Duke, a role he would reprise in the entire Rocky series. Brad Leahy played a hot dog vendor.

Rocky received mostly positive reviews when it was released in 1976. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Rocky 4 out of 4 stars, and Box Office Magazine claimed that audiences would be "...touting Sylvester (Sly) Stallone as a new star". Phil Villarreal of the Arizona Daily Star praised Stallone's performance saying "Stallone thoroughly owns the movie with his groggy, downbeat delivery and sense of indomitability". However, Vincent Canby of the New York Times called it "pure '30's make believe" and slammed both Stallone's acting and Avildsen's directing, calling the latter "...none too decisive..."

More than 30 years later, the film enjoys a reputation as a classic and still receives generally positive reviews. Film-goers at the movie website IMDb voted Rocky a 7.9 out of 10 rating, and Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 93% fresh rating. Another positive online review came from the BBC Films website, with both reviewer Almar Haflidason and BBC online users giving it 5/5 stars. In Steven J. Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Schneider says the film is "often overlooked as schmaltz."

Rocky received ten Academy Awards nominations in nine categories winning three:

* Best Picture (Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler) (won)
* Best Director (John G. Avildsen) (won)
* Film Editing (Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad) (won)
* Best Original Screenplay (Sylvester Stallone)
* Best Actor (Sylvester Stallone)
* Best Actress (Talia Shire)
* Best Supporting Actor (Burt Young)
* Best Supporting Actor (Burgess Meredith)
* Best Music, Original Song (Bill Conti, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins for "Gonna Fly Now")
* Best Sound (Harry W. Tetrick, William L. McCaughey, Lyle J. Burbridge and Bud Alper )

Rocky has also appeared on several of the American Film Institute's 100 Years lists.

* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies, number 78.
* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers, number 4.
* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes number 80: "Yo, Adrian!".
* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains Heroes number 7: Rocky Balboa.

The Directors Guild of America awarded Rocky its annual award for best film of the year in 1976, and in 2006, Sylvester Stallone's original screenplay for Rocky was selected by the Writers Guild of America as the 78th best screenplay of all time.

Rocky's soundtrack was composed by Bill Conti. The main theme song "Gonna Fly Now" made it to number one on the Billboard Magazines Hot 100 list for one week (from July 2 to July 8, 1977) and the American Film Institute placed it 58th on its AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs. The complete soundtrack was re-released in 1988 by EMI on CD and cassette. Bill Conti was also the composer for Rocky II, III and V, and the sixth installment.

Although the Bill Conti version of "Gonna Fly Now" is the most recognizable arrangement, a cover of the song performed by legendary trumpeter Maynard Ferguson on his Conquistador album prior to the release of the motion picture soundtrack actually outsold the soundtrack itself.

Home video release history

* Early 1980s - CED Videodisc
* October 27, 1993 (VHS and laserdisc)
* April 16, 1996 (VHS and laserdisc)
* March 24, 1997 (DVD)
* April 24, 2001 (DVD, also packed with the Five-Disc Boxed Set)
* December 14, 2004 (DVD, also packed with the Rocky Anthology box set)
* February 8, 2005 (DVD, also packed with the Rocky Anthology box set)
* December 5, 2006 (DVD and Blu-ray Disc - 2-Disc Collector's Edition, the DVD was the first version released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and was also packed with the Rocky Anthology box set and the Blu-ray Disc was the first version released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The famous scene of Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art has become a cultural icon. In 1982 a statue of Rocky, commissioned by Stallone for Rocky III, was placed at the top of the Rocky Steps. City Commerce Director Dick Doran claimed that Stallone and Rocky had done more for the city's image than "anyone since Ben Franklin."

Differing opinions of the statue and its placement led to a relocation to the sidewalk outside the Philadelphia Spectrum Arena, although the statue was temporarily returned to the top of the steps in 1990 for Rocky V, and again in 2006 for the 30th anniversary of the original Rocky movie (although this time it was placed at the bottom of the steps). Later that year, it was permanently moved to a spot next to the steps.

The scene is frequently parodied in the media. In the Simpsons episode "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can", Lisa Simpson runs up a flight of stairs wearing a tracksuit similar to the one worn by Rocky. In 2006 E! Entertainment Television named the "Rocky Steps" scene number 13 in its 101 Most Awesome Moments in Entertainment.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics torch relay, Philadelphia native Dawn Staley was chosen to run up the museum steps. In 2004, Presidential candidate John Kerry ended his pre-convention campaign at the foot of the steps before going to Boston to accept his party's nomination for President.

In an effort to capitalize on the success of Rocky, the 1970 pornography film Party at Kitty and Stud's was re-released under the title The Italian Stallion, a reference to Rocky's nickname. The film stars a 24-year-old Sylvester Stallone as "Stud" in his film debut, and also features Henrietta Holm as "Kitty".

To date Rocky has generated five sequels. The first, Rocky II (1979) sees Rocky reluctantly called back for a rematch with Apollo Creed. Rocky II reunited the entire cast of the original Rocky, and was just as successful, grossing $200 million worldwide. A new character appears in 1982's Rocky III, Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T), an outspoken young fighter insisting on a fight with Rocky. Rocky loses this bout, with Mickey suffering a fatal heart attack before the fight. Rocky accepts an offer from his rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed for help in regaining the title. Rocky IV (1985) introduces Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a strong Soviet fighter who is convinced he can defeat any American fighter. A retired Apollo takes up the challenge and is killed in the ring by Drago. After Apollo's death, Rocky decides to fight against Drago, despite his wife Adrian urging him not to, and travels to the Soviet Union to train for the fight. Rocky defeats Drago but has to give up his official heavyweight title as the boxing commission did not sanction the fight. Released in 1990, Rocky V was a departure from the rest of the series, as Rocky no longer fights professionally, due to brain injuries, but instead trains younger fighters, including Tommy Gunn (played by real life boxer Tommy Morrison). It becomes apparent that Gunn is merely using Rocky's fame for his own ends, and the film ends with Rocky defeating Gunn in a fight in the street. The movie also is the first to introduce Rocky's son, Robert, as a major character. The final addition to the Rocky series, Rocky Balboa has Rocky fighting against a real-life boxer again, in this case former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver playing Mason "The Line" Dixon.

Several video games have been made based on the film. The first Rocky video game was released by Coleco for Colecovision in 1983. Another was released in 1987 for the Sega Master System. More recently, a Rocky video game was released in 2002 for the Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Game Boy Advance, Sony PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Xbox, and a sequel (Rocky Legends) was released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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