Rocky is an unashamed feel-good movie. It is essentially a reworking of Paddy Chayefsky's Marty, only instead of a shy butcher in a grocery, the protagonist is a shy butcher for a local loan shark. The real-life tale is now legendary -- how the struggling young writer Sylvester Stallone was in the audience for Muhammad Ali's boxing match with (reputed) mob enforcer and all-around tough guy Chuck Wepner, only to wonder if it wouldn't make a better story if the underdog weren't beaten into a senseless pulp by the mercurial champion. Later, Stallone, still unsuccessful and very broke, would refuse an offer for his screenplay, insisting that the deal include his playing the title role. Much like the character in his screenplay, Stallone would get his unlikely chance at success and prevail in Rocky-like fashion. At the heart of the film is Rocky's reluctant romance with the similarly shy Adrian (Talia Shire). Director John G. Avildsen expertly stretched his meager budget with skillfully selected Philadelphia location shots, most notably Rocky's training montage, which ends at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. With Network and Taxi Driver as the primary competition, the Academy opted for the upbeat Rocky, giving it three Oscars, including Best Picture.
by Richard Gilliam review