“If I Fight You Fight”: Rocky on his 40th Anniversary

When I was growing up, I knew about Rocky. That’s to say – I knew of Rocky. I’d seen the poster, I knew that Sylvester Stallone was a movie star, I knew that at some point he shouted “Adrian!” Like most that haven’t sat down and watched any of the Rocky series, I felt like I already knew the story – and in a way, I did. It is a fairly straightforward underdog story in a lot of ways, which makes it hard to convince non-believers of its worth. The language that Rocky himself uses is simplistic, but the melodrama of the series’ middle casts a shadow over what is otherwise a nuanced, delicate character study.

Before Creed was released, our own Sean Fallon wrote about three different trilogies that we can choose as alternate viewing orders for the series. Now that the seventh film has been released (and snubbed at the Oscars) I’d propose another. Rocky, Rocky Balboa, and Creed make up the melancholy trilogy, with each film getting under the skin of a character who is easy to dismiss as a fossil of a bygone era without spending some time with him.

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