This Academy Award-winning gritty Cinderella story of a luckless amateur Philadelphia boxer who gets a chance at the world heavyweight championship is still uplifting to the human spirit.
Stallone, who wrote the script, plays Rocky Balboa, the struggling boxer with feeling and power trying to make the big time.
Stallone – at the time an obscure actor – was offered $300,000 for his script, which was reportedly written in three days.
Although he was broke, he demanded $75,000, a percentage of the profits and the lead role.
He got all three and delivered a performance bursting with the blue-collar heroism beloved of Americans.
Nice work, too, from the rest of the cast, especially Talia Shire as the boxer’s shy girlfriend, Adrian.
Working in a meat factory in Philadelphia for a pittance, Balboa also earns extra cash as a debt collector.
When heavyweight champion Apollo Creed visits Philadelphia, his managers want to set up an exhibition match between Creed and a struggling boxer, touting the fight as a chance for a “nobody” to become a “somebody”.
The match is supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who sees this as his only shot at the big time.
The schmaltzy plot owes much to On The Waterfront (1954), yet the cliché takes on new life with energy and atmosphere.
Crisply directed by John G. Avildsen, who deservedly picked up the Best Director Oscar for his work.
John G. Avildsen