Rocky

AFI Rank: #78
Year Released: 1976
Director: John G. Avildsen
Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire

Rocky was released in 1976 and earned the #78 spot on the AFI top 100. It is a powerful testatment to this movie's strength that here I am, a female and not someone who watches boxing, and I adored the movie. There are just so many layers in here to appreciate.

Rocky is a barely-making-it boxer who is struggling to do the best he can. He knows this life is very hard, but he feels he has little other choice. He diligently keeps chasing a woman who works at a local pet shop, even though she barely gives him any encouragement. He sees beyond her plain appearance and shyness and appreciates her love of animals and her gentle nature.

Then, fate intervenes. An African-American boxer is in town and no whites will fight him. They all invent excuses. Abusive language is thrown around like "jig clowns". It is upsetting to realize that there are people out there who will be so nasty just because of someone's birth skin color. Rocky gets chosen out of a list simply because of his name - "Italian Stallion" - to be offered the fight. There is no expectation that this dirt-bottom boxer will even slightly hold his own against the champ.

Rocky doesn't even get much time to train. He has to go from his barely-making-it status to being in the center of a publicity whirlstorm. He has doubts. He is realistic. But his girlfriend believes in him, and she herself blossoms and flowers under his gentle care. She was told by life that she had to rely on her brains because she didn't have much of a body. Rocky was told the opposite. It really shows how much people are shaped by the world around them and its negative messages.

Even the side characters shine. Rocky tries his best to redirect a young teen girl who is throwing her life away. She's abusive in return. Again we see just how much people get set onto a path and find it hard to escape.

I have parakeets and I admit to loving how parakeets are infiltrated into the movie :) The ad-libbing with them is great!

Even though I knew how the movie was going to end, I had tears in my eyes. It is just that powerful.

Highly recommended.

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AFI Top 100 Film Listing
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The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100