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Rocky

So, my New Years resolution (first one I've ever made oddly enough)  is to watch all 78 Oscar winners for best picture. . . .79 as of February 25. This has the added benifit of not being something I can break just by one day of not feeling like working out. If by December 1st I've only seen three of them, it is still technically posible to watch 76 movies in 31 days, so I won't feel like a total failure.

Oh, and I'll be blogging about this.

Now, finding "Wings" is going to be hard so seeing them chronologically is out, and I'm too lazy to alphabatize, so this will all be in random order. Up first, "Rocky."

The 1976 winner was written by Sylvester Stallone himself (no, seriously, it was) and Stallone puts in a very good performance as the collections guy for a local loan shark who enjoys a little boxing. Most reviews call him a "down on his luck boxer" but it's really a lot more complex than that. In the first scene where we see Balboa in the ring with Spider Rico he doesn't seem all that interested in winning until Rico headbuts him and the whole thing turns into a UFC match. Then we see Rocky on the docks collecting for Gazzo and it turns out he's a little too nice for the job. He's the guy who carries a passed out drunk back into the bar to be looked after by friends. He's the guy who talks to his pets. He's the guy who is so nervous talking to Adrian he practices telling bad jokes in the mirror. He has a good friend in Paulie, though he's not all that good at his job Gazzo never seems too upset with him, and he has a hobby with boxing. For a guy who's supposed to be down on his luck, he never seems to upset about his station in life.

But Stallone's best touch in the script comes in the little details. The tiff between Rocky and Gazzo's driver. That moment when Adrian climbs into the ring after the fight and Rocky asks her what happened to her hat. Joe Frazier accusing Creed of ducking him. The look on Creed's face when Rocky gets up towards the end of the 14th. "Paulie got three grand and I got the robe." Things like that make the movie come to life.

But in doing some research I found that the movie also righted a great historical wrong. Burgess Meredith was a WWII vet who starred alongside Robert Mitchum in Ernie Pyle bio-pic "Story of G. I. Joe." However Meredith's political beliefs were slightly to the left of Karl Rove so he ran afoul of Sen. Joe McCarthy (Facist-WI). For two decades he got nothing more than a long string of forgetable TV roles, until landing the role of the Penguin on Batman. But even after that his movie roles were nothing to write home about, until he was 69 years old and was chosen to portray a gravely voiced trainer named Mickey.

When "Rocky" won the Oscar for best picture it was up against "All the President's Men," "Network," and "Taxi Driver" which are all decent movies, but not on the same level as this one.


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