In 1976, an unemployed actor named Sylvester Stallone took some of the ideas of "Marty" (the Oscar-winning working-class drama starring Ernst Borgnine), mixed them with conventions of the sports-prizefighting genre as evident in such popular Hollywood pictures as "The Champ," "Golden Boy," "Champion," and "Somebody Up There Likes Me" and came up with "Rocky," a formulaic film about the rise to fame and success of a simpleton wannabe boxer from Philadelphia.
"Rocky" was not a family drama per se, but the romance between Rocky and Adrian, a shy, plain salesclerk (Talia Shire), whom he later marries, was conducted along the movie lines of "Marty;" her character resembles that of Clara.
More significantly, "Rocky" paved the way to the making and acceptance of other conventional, old-fashioned movies about ordinary folks. Mainstream American audiences seemed to crave for such fare, after being saturated for a whole decade with the action-adventure "disaster" genre with films like "Jaws' (a good one) and "Airport" (a bad one) and its sequels
Moviegoers must have noticed that the family has almost disappeared from American films for most of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Moreover, the last major pictures to have dealt with marriage and the family were mostly negative portrayals, like Mike Nichols's two nominated features, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966) and "The Graduate" (1967).
"Rocky" proved the impossible by becoming the first, but not last, sports film to win the Best Picture Oscar; the British period film, "Chariots of Fire" would become the second winner, in 1981. Along with "Bound for Glory," Hal Ashby's biopicture of singer-labor organizer Woody Guthrie, "Rocky" became a major contender at the Oscars race.
Arguably each of the other three 1976 nominees was far more interesting than "Rocky." Alan Pakula's "All the President's Men," produced by Robert Redford and co-starring him and Dustin Hoffman, was a good political thriller about the Watergate scandal, based on the best seller by the two ambitious and heroic Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford).
Sidney Lumet made an outrageous farce, "Network," with an all-star cast, about the potential power of television, that for some reason many people took as a serious drama. Martin Scorsese followed up his personal Little Italy-set feature "Mean Street" with "Taxi Driver," a film about political and social alienation, embodied by Robert De Niro in a grand performance.
Nonetheless, of the five movies, the populist message of "Rocky," the rise to stardom of an obscure "nobody," which paralleled both the actor's life off screen and President Jimmy Carter's 1976 election, was the most upbeat and the least controversial. For the Academy voters who selected it, the movie must have registered as the most befitting of the nation's mood in its Bicentennial celebrations.
The impact of "Rocky"'s success was felt by the American industry and public for at least a decade. The film made Stallone the most popular star and the most dominant male image in the 1980s, surpassing the powerful persona of Clint Eastwood in his "Dirty Harry" films. In the 1980s, the "Rocky" movies were made simultaneously with another popular, right-wing film series starring Stallone, "Rambo," a simplistic revisionist of the Vietnam War.
"Rocky" also led to three immediate sequels of the Rocky Balboa saga, which raises two questions: Will Rocky IV be the last part of the series and, if not, who will Rocky fight next After defeating the Russian champion and being cheered up by the entire Soviet Union what else is left Religion God