Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Battle Of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 1976

Fall is sports-o-rama; from football to rugby to soccer to baseball, everyday of the week is jam packed with one athletic event after the next.

Always a tomboy at heart, I will often be found cheering for various sporting events (Seahawks so close this week!) in front of a television and in real life.

Fitting right in with all the matches this past weekend, the best picture race has caught up to 1976, which was the year of the ultimate boxing underdog; Rocky.

After growing up around a ton of boys, I love a good sports flick, and have quite possibly seen the successive Rocky sequels more times than anyone should.  I realized though, that I have never given the original its due as a true classic.

The real authority of the Rocky franchise (aka my brother) will tell you the first sucks. After this fresh viewing, the romantic inside me says that the first, is really the only Rocky.

As the writer and star, Sylvester Stallone shot from obscurity to fame much like his most well known role.

I never gave Stallone much credit, and it has to be said that he honestly shines as Rocky Balboa, a guy who never gives up on his dreams of boxing, even as he trudges around Philadelphia being told he's no good and washed up.

"The Italian Stallion" gets a break when the greatest boxer in the world, Apollo Creed (as played by my acting coach, Carl Weathers), decides to fight an unknown in a nationally televised event.

Cue the classic soundtrack, and Rocky's training for the big fight immortalizes a set of stairs, and created a scene that is required by all people to reenact at some point in their life.

The Pop Pilgrims traveled there, and they documented just some of the thousands of people who visit the stairs daily. It's kind of incredible. (Side note: the stairs lead to the Philadelphia Museum Of Art. No art, people just want the stairs, man).

Anyone running up those steps in Philadelphia, hope to soak up any of the spirit that the passionate underdog had.

The fact that memorable scenes like this effect people and literally merge into reality, is why movies are the greatest-nothing beats 'em.

Stallone perfectly embodies the tough guy we root for, but he equally captures the sentimental spirit of Rocky, who is in love with the timid local pet shop attendant, Adrian (Talia Shire).

As much as this flick is about boxing, it is shocking how much of the movie revolves around the budding romance of Rocky and Adrian. Their relationship takes the film to a whole other (even better) place than is expected from a sports oriented flick.

Maybe I'm just a girl with all the romancy stuff, but hey, mixed with all the fighting and heartening story, Rocky really does have it all.

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