ROCKY (1976) C widescreen 119m dir: John G. Avildsen

w/Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Thayer David, Joe Spinelli, Jimmy Gambina, Bill Baldwin, Aldo Silvani

The Academy Award-winner about a loutish lug who wants to become a boxing champ. Stallone makes you care about him, and Shire, playing his painfully shy girlfriend, is splendid. The film uses the working class areas of Philadelphia to good advantage for the many on-location scenes.

From The Movie Guide: "Better films have been made about the world of sports, but for many ROCKY is the sports movie. As drenched in sentiment as it is in sweat, as much love story as fight film, this classic tale of a tireless 'bum' who makes good is one of the most uplifting films ever made. ... Establishing a formula that would be duplicated over and over (especially in its own sequels ...), the film slowly draws the audience into Rocky's struggle, until his triumph becomes that of every 'little guy' who's dreamed of making it big. Reminiscent of Marlon Brando's Terry Malloy (ON THE WATERFRONT) and Paul Newman's Rocky Graziano (SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME), Stallone's Rocky is magnificent, mirroring the actor's own battle for Hollywood success. As a struggling actor and screenwriter known mainly for THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH, Stallone, inspired by New Jersey club boxer Chuck Wepner's courageous loss to Muhammad Ali (a 15th-round TKO), wrote ROCKY's screenplay in three days. Determined to star in it himself, he turned down a quarter-million-dollar offer for his script, won the part, and, under John Avildsen's Oscar-winning direction, gave the screen one of its most memorable characters. The fairy-tale championship match is generally well choreographed (by Stallone), and the training montage, in its originality, remains more gripping than the many glossier imitations it inspired. Expertly paced, benefiting from well-drawn characters and an evocative, often funny script, ROCKY simply pushes all the right buttons. Former heavyweight champ and Philly native Joe Frazier appears as himself."

Oscars went to the film for Best Picture, Director, and Editing (Richard Halsey, Scott Conrad). It was also nominated for Best Actor (Stallone), Actress (Shire), Supporting Actor (both Young and Meredith), Story & Screenplay (Stallone), Song ("Gonna Fly Now"), and Sound.