Rocky, by John Avildsen, was released in 1976 and received ten Oscar nominations, winning only two (best picture and best director, the most important). Among the nominations he received were those for best actor (which was won by Peter Finch for An unforgiving world) and Best Screenplay (also won by Paddy Chayefsky for An unforgiving world). You know who else, before Sylvester Stallone, had been nominated for both best actor and best screenplay for the same movie? Charlie Chaplin, for The great Dictatorand Orson Welles, for Citizen Kane.
And stop counting.
If that doesn’t give you the measure that Rocky is one of the most gigantic films in the history of American cinema (and not only, but above all American) I don’t know what to do with you anymore and I give up. Rocky Balboa is a giant piece of the 20th century and a symbol of a billion different things. He defined and perfected the concept of the “underdog”, of David against Goliath, of the person who, starting from a disadvantaged position, manages to climb the food chain and succeed thanks to sweat, commitment and determination, an idea that a few years later, with Reagan and Reaganism, it would explode and become a commercial playground, thanks also to certain films by Stallone himself. He invented the training montage. And it is a case of perfect identity between character and author: Rocky is Stallone and Stallone is Rocky, more than Rambo was. But I’m lost: we’re here to talk about Mr. Balboa, and about ten things about him and his life that you absolutely must know and that, if you already know them, you’ll like to read them again.
1) His full name is Robert Balboa, but despite this it is of Italian origin, like its author. I say “despite this” because “Balboa” apparently comes from the name of this place, which as you can see it is in Spain and not in Italy. Another curious thing is that we know the names of several members of the Balboa family (mainly thanks to believe Y creed II), but we have no idea what their parents’ names are. However, we know that, according to Rocky himself, his father “wasn’t the smartest of all”; neither is he, who has always presented himself as an unassuming simpleton but with a lot of drive.
2) His nickname derives from Rocky Marciano, Italian-American boxer, born Rocco Marchegiano, son of Pierino Marchegiano and Pasqualina Picciuto, who was heavyweight champion from 1952 to 1956, the only one in history who finished his career undefeated. According to Wikipedia and newspapers at the time, Rocky Marciano was nicknamed “Brockton Blockbuster” or “The Rock From Brockton” (he was born in Brockton, in case you were wondering). Rocky, on the other hand, was nicknamed throughout his career “Rock”, “Rocco”, “Meatball”, “The Iron Horse” and, above all, “The Italian Stallion”, that is, the artistic name that he himself Stallone had adopted during his brief softcore porn career, which began and ended with Forbidden Porn by Morton Lewis (who became Italian Stallion right after the release of Rocky). However, as I read yesterday on social media from Chelsea fans, Romelu Lukaku is nicknamed ‘Big Rom’ or, and this is extraordinary, ‘The Stamford Fridge’ – nothing to do with Rocky but I wanted you to know -.
3) His story is inspired by that of another boxer. This is not Rocky Graziano, as you might think, but Chuck Wepner, who in 1975 had the privilege of fighting Muhammad Ali and losing by TKO in the 15th round. Even Rocky, in his historic first fight with Apollo Creed that closed out the first movie, lasted, not surprisingly, fifteen rounds. Apparently, Wepner, who was a Marine, also performed several acts of heroism, including rescuing three comrades from the burning wreckage of a crashed plane.
4) His wife’s name is ‘Adrian’, which is actually ‘Adrianna’, and certainly not ‘Adrianaaaaa’. Adrianna Pennino, to be exact, aka Adrian, a nickname that I have never understood what it is for, since it only saves you a vowel. You may be surprised by the idea of an Italian-American character being played by someone named Talia Shire, but the truth is that she has a trick. Talia Shire’s real name is actually Talia Coppola, daughter of Carmine Coppola and Italia Pennino, sister of Francis Ford Coppola, aunt of Nicolas Cage and Sofia Coppola, and mother of Jason Schwartzmann. Her paternal grandparents are from Bernalda, in Basilicata, and her maternal grandparents from Naples: I would say that she has all the credibility she needs.
5) And yet, at the beginning… Adrian’s family was supposed to be Irish, his brother was going to be Harvey Keitel, and so Stallone tried to cast Carrie Snodgress, who in 1970 got an Oscar nomination for Diary of a desperate wife (which, unlike Italian Stallion, is NOT a porn movie). Snodgress turned him down because Stallone offered him too little money.
6) Speaking of money. Rocky cost less than a million dollars and grossed 225 million, figures at the time, not adjusted for inflation, but which give an idea of the success of the film. And how poor Sylvester Stallone was at the time, and also how allergic he was to commitment: they liked his script so much that the studios started offering the lead role to an established star to cash in like crazy, but he refused because I didn’t see anyone but him playing Rocky. Quoting director John Avildsen on the subject: “He was a screwed-up actor. He wasn’t a big star. He was very cooperative and willing to try anything and didn’t worry about the size of his trailer, because there was no trailer.”
7) Rocky wrote seven of the eight movies of Rockyand directed four of the eight. In the sense that Sylvester Stallone has always wanted to maintain total control of his boxing creature, even more than he did with Rambo, and has never allowed anyone else to follow his story without his permission. The same happens with the only film in the saga that has not been written by him, believewhich was written by director Ryan Coogler and screenwriter Aaron Covington and to which Stallone contributed by writing only his own scenes and dialogue (of which there is relatively little).
8) Rocky ended the Cold War with one punch. Happened in Rocky IVthe most successful film of the saga (in terms of box office), the one that even people who don’t like Rocky known by the phrase I WILL BREAK YOU IN TWO, and especially the film in which the maximalist aspirations of an increasingly released Stallone (in the same year, 1985, was also released Rambo 2, that is, the film that transformed John Rambo from a Vietnam veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder into a superhero and a killing machine) reached its climax: Rocky’s victory in Russia, before the entire General Staff of the USSR, including Gorbachev, and his hopeful message “if I can change and you can change, the whole world can change!”, will help precipitate the events that six years later will lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It’s already history.
9) People never remember Rocky V. The first was a ray of light, a resounding meeting between auteur cinema, New Hollywood, sports cinema, the story of the life of an immigrant, everything. The second was a confirmation, the third is Eye of the Tiger, so whatever your opinion of it, it’s unforgettable. Of the fourth I have already spoken before. Rocky Balboa served to show that Stallone still had what it takes. believe it was a pleasant surprise and an unexpected (for a spin-off) return to form and proof that of the two stallonian megafranchises it is the one of Rocky which deserves to continue, while Rambo should retire. creed II was received with all the enthusiasm imaginable. And what about Rocky V, for which Stallone even called in John Avildsen in an attempt to repeat the Oscar success? It grossed less than all the others, it was even less popular (despite the very interesting idea of opening the film immediately after Rocky IV and show Sly suffering the consequences of all those beatings on his body) and was surpassed by other megahits of that year like Dancing with Wolves Y Home alone. If it wasn’t for Rocky always getting up, Rocky V It could have been the franchise’s coup de grace.
10) Rocky will come back, maybe, who knows, it’s up to Stallone. It seems pretty sure that Creed III will be done, and that Stallone himself will be involved, as confirmed by his own words in this interview: “Rocky meets a pissed off young man who got stranded in this country when he came to visit his sister. He takes him into his life and they start a series of amazing adventures that take them across the border. It’s a very exciting story.” appropriate for these times.” Note, however, that Stallone never utters the word “Creed.” Above all, remember that for every hundred projects Sylvester Stallone announces, maybe one comes to fruition, so don’t be surprised if Creed IIIor the new Rocky, or the prequel to the television series about young Balboa (I swear) do not come true. And don’t worry: the Italian foal has already left an indelible mark on the history of cinema.
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Rocky Balboa in ten curiosities
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