Contrary to popular myth, Sylvester Stallone was not a complete unknown when he played the title role in Rocky. He’d already made good impressions in Death Race 2000 and The Lords of Flatbush. But he had enough experience under his belt to know that he if wanted to break out big, he’d need to create a role that would showcase what made him unique. So he wrote a script, which people loved, and then insisted that he star in it as part of the package.
With veteran director John G. Avildsen at the helm, the result remains a completely winning film, warm and appealing, not only for its virtues in celebrating the underdog, but for its understanding that all people want to do better, even if it’s in some small way that no one else can see. In Rocky Balboa’s case, he had the unexpectedly opportunity to showcase himself to the world, and gave it his best shot. In Sylvester Stallone’s case, not only is his script a marvel of construction and character, he delivered a very strong, very relatable performance.
Put the iconic moments that have become cliches back into the context of the movie, in which a working class man recognizes that he has limitations and chooses to ignore them, and you end up with Rocky, which, doggone it, can still make you stand up and cheer, more than 35 years after it was released.
Rocky began a limited engagement at the Texas Theatre last night in 35mm and continues through Sunday.