I’m super easy going – ask anyone. I’ll go anywhere, do anything, eat anything for sure. I’ll go to most any movie too. But, if I’m really honest, there’s only a narrow range of movies I tend to really love and lots of categories of movies that don’t usually move me.
I find many action movies boring (weird, right?).
Special effects don’t impress me.
Intrigue movies tend to confuse me and horror movies scare me too much.
I’m not into violent or overly vile movies.
O.k., some more true confessions (please don’t judge me!):
My favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger is Kindergarten Cop.
My favorite Al Pacino movies are probably a tie between Serpico and Frankie and Johnny.
My favorite Clint Eastwood movie is The Bridges of Madison County.
And I love just about anything starring Hugh Grant or written/directed by Cameron Crowe (though I’ve never seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High and not sure that would be up my alley!).
All of this probably gives you a strong hint that I primarily love movies about people and relationships (as I’ve blogged about before in Movies that Move Me). I love clever romantic comedies and deep, heart-felt dramas. Things that inspire me. They can be about almost anything but I want to know about the human side of things – like Apollo 13 did so brilliantly and my favorite Vietnam War-era film, Coming Home.
Rocky (yes, I’m finally getting to the blog title subject) is definitely one of my favorite movies for this very reason. I’m talking about the original; the first one those of us of a certain age were thrilled to see when it first came out back in November 1976. The first of six Rocky movies, five sequels spanning the next 30 years!
I still remember the excitement we collectively felt in the theater when the massive movie screen showed five simple, bold, large white letters – ROCKY – on a stark black background while the triumphant musical theme played. And I still marvel at how a 30-year-old, basically unknown Sylvester Stallone could create such an iconic story and character in the triple-Award winning movie he wrote, directed and starred in.
Rocky’s about a boxer, of course, but above all, it’s a human story on every level, filled with heart, soul, love, ‘going the distance,’ underdog triumph and more. My family and I know basically every line from memory. And while some of the fighting scenes still make me shut my eyes (like when Rocky says, “Cut me Mick” so he can pry his swelled-up eye open), there’s a favorite scene I want to share. One that shows, maybe most clearly, what a truly gentle soul the young Rocky Balboa is, despite his violent vocation.
It’s toward the start of the movie, when Rocky’s completely down and out on his luck and has been kicked out of the gym he’s worked out at for years. (Another boxer takes over his space, famously and obnoxiously saying “I dig your locker, man.” Wow, how low can you get?)
Rocky’s former manager has given up on him, too, calling him a ‘bum’. But Mick comes back to his former protégé, asking if he can manage him again when he finds out Rocky has been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight the heavyweight champion of the world, Apollo Creed.
Mick is an old, battered, former boxer himself. Rocky’s in his signature ripped undershirt, and they’re both in Rocky’s pathetically rundown apartment, when Rocky starts throwing verbal jabs at Mick pretty hard. Basically it’s along the lines of, sure, now you want to get in on the action. Where were you before? He’s yelling and screaming and Mick sadly walks out of the dingy apartment, head down, hat literally in his hand.
While his job is to physically hurt his opponents, it’s clear Rocky can’t stand to hurt anyone, especially emotionally, outside the ring. He can’t stay mad and he can’t bear to see someone else sad.
Next scene, he’s running out of his building, chasing Mick down. From a distance, in the dusk of a tough Philadelphia neighborhood, you hear some sweet background music and see Rocky making amends with Mick, shaking his hand. And, as they say, the rest is movie history.
I just love that poignant scene and it reminds me of myself … and my dad. For all our other flaws or shortcomings, I know I get some of my sensitivity and generosity from my father. I remember growing up, my dad would state his case when I did something wrong but then literally couldn’t stay angry, no matter what. (My mom could hold onto the grudges just a little longer … lol).
I’ve always appreciated that and find myself finding ways to make amends with my friends and loved ones as quickly and completely as possible, no matter who’s done who wrong. It just feels good and I use Rocky as a role model.
So thanks Rocky, Sylvester Stallone … and dad. And Happy Thanksgiving everyone.