Reflections on Rocky II

I just got done watching Rocky II, written and directed by Sylvester Stallone.

I feel compelled to write about it, because of the amazing emotions that swelling throughout me as I watched the film’s climactic battle and the ending speech by Stallone’s Rocky to his wife.

Even though I’ve seen the movie several times before, I couldn’t help but be on the edge of my seat. I was grinning ear-to-ear with intense satisfaction at the end of the final fight sequence. I could literally feel a warmth of pride and happiness burning in my cheeks as Rocky spoke the final words of the movie.

Yes, pride. Even though it was Rocky’s accomplishments and not mine, over the course of the film I had bonded with Rocky’s everyman character. So, by the end, his accomplishments were mine to cheer on. Mine to be proud of. Like a father (which I am) feeling pride of his son’s achievements (a feeling I have very often regarding my own two amazing sons).

I recall once in college I did an entire paper in my Literature in Film course comparing Rocky II to Shakespeare’s Henry V. I got a B on the paper because Rocky II wasn’t one of the films we were supposed to be choosing from. The instructor said that is the only reason I didn’t get an A+, because I provided well thought, expertly notated arguments of the similarities in plot development and story arc.

I wish I still had that paper.

I am a big fan of four of the Rocky movies: Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, and Creed; my favorite of the movies being Rocky III (also written and directed by Sylvester Stallone). I give passing grades to the other Rocky movies even though I hold a bit of a sense of jealousy over Rocky V in which Rocky has retired but agrees to train a hungry young fighter played by real life boxer Tommy Morrison.

You see, a few years before that film I wrote a fan letter to Sylvester Stallone. In that letter I suggested he have Rocky retire but subsequently agree to train the Olympic Boxing team. It’s not a close enough plot that I can claim he stole my idea. But you do have to admit there are similarities.

What not everybody knows is that Sylvester Stallone was a virtually unknown actor when they made the original Rocky movie from his original screenplay. The studio wanted to buy the script from Stallone for Burt Reynolds to star in, but Stallone kept to his guns. He insisted the only way the movie would be made, was if he was allowed to star in it.

The film was made on a budget of just over $1 million and earned over $225 million in worldwide box office receipts. Stallone was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture.

True, Stallone has made some bad movies in his time (anyone remember Rhinestone with Dolly Parton?). But which popular actor hasn’t made a few flops?

Truth be told, Stallone is very much a self-made man. He came from humble upbringings and didn’t let partial paralysis of his face caused during childbirth to hold him back from his dreams of being a movie star. When he wasn’t getting cast in the big parts that would make that happen, he took matters into his own hands and started writing his own vehicles to star in – Rocky being one of them, which he incidentally wrote in three days.

You may not like all of Stallone’s movies, but you’ve got to respect the man. And I, for one, am a fan.

 

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