Trial By Trailer: I never clued in that Rocky wasn’t a gifted fighter.
His actual X-Men ability was to withstand punishment contrasted with his deep hunger. He could tolerate a middle class life—or lower middle class—because that’s extremely punishing. Rocky had a high pain tolerance so if it wasn’t for his hunger he’d still be trapped in a cold Philadelphia ghetto.
As Stallone put it he’s fighting for an ideal:
“The character was not supposed to be a gifted fighter…he was gifted in other ways. He just could take an incredible amount of punishment and he was fighting for an ideal. He had no illusions that he was a winner; he just wanted an opportunity.”
That’s a quote from 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, a “winsome” tribute to the timeless movie and iconic character. From director Derek Wayne Johnson whose previous work includes John G. Avildsen King of the Underdogs. (Think of this as a sorta-sequel to that doc.)
A broad mixture of previously seen footage and unseen footage is deftly stitched together: home movies, behind the scenes footage, and rehearsal footage shot by John G. Avildsen, as well as on-set footage all narrated by a goofy and somewhat embarrassed Sylvester Stallone. It was the late 70s so style was not ah…common.
You know him…you’ve spent so much time with him. As the title suggests 40 years of Rocky easily means a Survivor scored montage of all the Rocky moments in your life. And how they’ve been good moments. There’s an entire 80s generation addicted to getting off the mat with their dukes up bloody yet determined to still fight. (There’s also an entire 80s generation terrified at getting soft…of letting success dull the hunger and becoming satisfied. Rocky III is one of the best 80s horror movies. That movie still gives me nightmares.)
The past month has given us powerful and potent documentaries on Michael Jordan and Bruce Lee. Now it’s Rocky’s turn: the GOAT trilogy. Cue Robert Teppers’ No Easy Way Out:
“We’re not indestructible
Baby better get that straight
I think it’s unbelievable
How you give into the hands of fate
Some things are worth fighting for
Some feelings never die…”
Indeed. What an astonishing run that started with a movie that started with Sylvester Stallone’s 3 day writing marathon.
40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic is available on Amazon and iTunes on June 9. Highly Recommended.
Sammy Verdict: It’s Rocky…I’m always 100% for all things Rocky
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.