Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Rocky (1976)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Rocky (1976)

In John G. Avildsen's Best Picture-winning boxing classic - a phenomenally successful, uplifting, "sleeper" film that was filmed in a record twenty-eight days with a paltry budget of about $1 million, and ultimately grossed well over $100 million - it was the action-packed, 'feel-good' crowd-pleasing story, shot mostly on location, about the rise of a small-time, has-been, underdog Philadelphia boxer against insurmountable odds:

  • the opening sequence (November 25, 1975): a low-paying boxing match in Philadelphia (in a local church arena) between bull-necked Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his opponent Spider Rico; during the bout, Rocky, nicknamed "The Italian Stallion," was told by his cornerman: "You're fightin' like a bum"; after Rocky won the match, the fight's promoter distributed slim profits between Rocky and his opponent in the locker room - Rocky received a little over $40 dollars (after taxes and expenses)
  • the meager living conditions and lonely but simple life of the Philadelphia "bum" - after the fight (during the title credits), Rocky walked home to his dingy, cramped, one-room, second-floor apartment in South Philly - in a deteriorating, bleak area of the city; to keep him company, he had two pet turtles (Cuff and Link), a tiny goldfish named Moby Dick, and a curling wall poster of heavyweight boxing idol Rocky Marciano; he joked to his turtles: "If you guys could sing or dance, I wouldn't be doin' this, you know?"
  • the beginnings of a touching courtship and budding romance with painfully-shy, hesitant, 30 year old, dark-haired, gawky, and spectacled pet-store clerk Adrianna (Adrian) Pennino (Talia Shire)
  • it was revealed that Rocky was the strong-arm collections man for a local numbers racket, working for loan shark Tom Gazzo (Joe Spinell); he confronted a waterfront laborer named Bob/Fats (Jack Hollander) to shake him down for his debts ("If you wanna borrow, you gotta pay the man")
The Main Characters
Rocky Balboa
(Sylvester Stallone)
Adrianna (Adrian) Pennino
(Talia Shire)
Mickey (Burgess Meredith)
Paulie Pennino
(Burt Young)
  • the introduction of Rocky's local gym (Mighty Mick's) where he had been boxing for six years - it was filled with amateur boxers punching bags, skipping rope, sparring with partners, and exercising; he spoke to weathered, tough-talking, aging, white-haired, crusty old Mickey (Burgess Meredith), who was disgusted with Rocky's poor training habits and lack of ambition to be a great fighter ("I run a business here, not a god-damn soup kitchen"); he recognized that Rocky's main ability was to take a lot of punches and punishment, without any boxing finesse: "You got heart, but you fight like a god-damn ape. The only thing special about you is ya never got your nose busted - well, leave it that way, nice and pretty, and what's left of your mind...Hey kid, did ya ever think about retirin'?...You think about it"
  • on his way home, Rocky again visited with the very shy Adrian in the pet shop, who was so hesitant that she hid behind and separated from him by the imprisoning bars of a parakeet cage; Rocky thought the birds "look like flying candy"
  • the next scene was at the neighborhood Lucky Seven Tavern, in the men's room, where Rocky spoke to Adrian's brother Paulie (Burt Young), his buddy - a meatpacker; Rocky wondered why Adrian wouldn't date him - Paulie regarded Adrian as a loser that Rocky shouldn't even waste his time on ("Forget her...You could do better than her...She's a friggin' loser")
  • Rocky had his first view of an important figure in his future who appeared on television while he was at the bar - the reigning World Heavyweight boxing champ - a flamboyant, arrogant black fighter (Muhammed Ali-inspired) named Apollo Creed (football star Carl Weathers); Creed spoke about an upcoming, much-publicized 'Bicentennial Fight' at the Spectrum
  • in the offices of Apollo Creed's fight promoter Miles Jergens (Thayer David), it appeared the 'Bicentennial Fight' would have to be cancelled because of the injured hand of Creed's opponent; to remedy the problem, the scheming Creed proposed "to give a local Philadelphia boy a shot at the greatest title in the world"; shortly later, he chose the unknown, no-hope Rocky to be his opponent for the public-relations January 1st event ("APOLLO CREED MEETS THE ITALIAN STALLION. Sounds like a damn monster movie")
  • the scene of Rocky's meeting up with Adrian on Thanksgiving evening; Paulie forced her to go out of the house with Rocky after he speared the cooked bird in the oven with a fork (and tore a leg off for himself), and tossed it out the back door, and then brashly yelled: "I want ya outta here. Get outta the house. Get out and enjoy your friggin' life"; Rocky nervously asked Adrian for a date - as she hid behind her bedroom door: "We'll go out together and get somethin' to eat, I don't know, maybe laugh a little bit, who knows, ya know?"; Adrian opened the bedroom door, bundled up in a frumpy coat and wool cap - ready to go out
  • at a deserted ice skating rink, during 10 minutes of skate time with her, Rocky ran along by Adrian's side as she skated (and they talked about the choice of using either one's body or one's brains); Rocky explained to Adrian why he started fighting - and chose a life of boxing: "'Cause I can't sing or dance"; he also admitted: "Ya gotta be a moron to wanna be a fighter, ya know. I mean, it's a racket where you're almost guaranteed to end up a bum"; Adrian was encouraging: "I don't think you're a bum"
  • afterwards, the scene of their first kiss at the door of his cramped apartment - Rocky begged for her not to go when she said she was uncomfortable, and he intercepted her exit; he asked her for a favor - to remove her outdated glasses, noting that she had really "nice eyes"; as a second favor, he asked Adrian to take off her gray wool cap, and then complimented her on how pretty she was: "I always knew you was pretty"; self-deprecating, Adrian replied: "Don't tease me," but Rocky was respectfully sincere about her budding beauty: "I'm not teasin' ya. I ain't teasin' ya"; he leaned forward, asking to kiss her: "I just wanna kiss ya. You don't have to kiss me back if ya don't want. I wanna kiss you"; after one soft kiss, she responded and tentatively, lightly returned the kiss; after the long-delayed moment, the pay-off was magical and natural; they passionately gave themselves to each other with more kisses and an embrace as they collapsed in each other's arms to the floor next to the front door
Their First Kisses and Embrace
  • the sequence of Rocky's visit to the wood-paneled offices of promoter Miles Jergens where he was assured that Creed was giving him ("an unknown") an opportunity: "a shot at the title. And that unknown is you. He picked you, Rocky. It's a chance of a lifetime. You can't pass it by" - Rocky accepted the offer
  • the scene of Apollo's and Rocky's press conference, broadcast on TV, when became the butt of Creed's snide joke: "If he can't fight, I bet he can cook"; Rocky downplayed how he was made out to be a "fool" with the "cheap shots," but later confessed to Adrian that he was hurt by the comments
  • the sequence at Rocky's place of his wily trainer Mickey attempting to convince Rocky that he would be his manager for his unlikely title fight: "Well, what ya need is a manager. A manager, listen to me. I know, because I've been in this racket for fifty years...I've seen it all, all of it. Ya know what I've done?...I have done it all..."; Mick persisted: " I got all this knowledge, I got it up here now, I wanna give it to you...I wanna take care of ya, I wanna make sure that all this s-t that happened to me doesn't happen to you...Ya can't buy what I'm gonna give ya"; Rocky rejected Mickey's offer of experience, because he was ignored over the past ten years; he responded with a yelled tirade at a departing Mickey as he descended the stairs: "What about my prime, Mick? At least you had a prime? I had no prime, I've had nothin'...."; then a few moments later, Rocky had a change of heart, ran into the street to stop Mick; they reconciled, and he accepted Mick as his trainer - putting his arm around him and shaking his hand (in an extreme long shot)
  • the montage of Rocky's first early morning training regimen (from Thanksgiving to New Years) included waking up at 4 am, guzzling a glass of five raw eggs with one gulp, early morning sprints in grey sweats while shadow-boxing (through the City of Brotherly Love's deserted streets), and his slow ascent up the steep steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art - completely out of breath, out of shape and winded as he reached the top and then stumbled back down the stairs to return home; as part of his regimen, he also pounded a hanging slab of raw meat at Paulie's place of work to take out his frustration for his buddy asking too many questions about his relationship with Adrian; Paulie complimented him: "You're breakin' the ribs. You do that to Apollo Creed, they'll put us in jail for murder"
Rocky's First Early Morning Workout
  • for publicity's sake, the next day, opportunist Paulie called a TV station to film Rocky showing off his boxing ability and his "unique training method" in the meat icebox; when asked by the interviewer (Diana Lewis): "Do other fighters pound raw meat?", Rocky answered: "No, I think I invented it"
  • the dramatic scene in his home at Christmas time when a self-pitying Paulie grabbed a baseball bat and threatened "scum bum" Rocky (and Adrian) for not being properly appreciative; he felt short-changed and sorry for himself because Rocky hadn't given him a break (a job with Gazzo); Adrian decided to leave Paulie and live with Rocky
  • in the gym while Rocky was sparring with a practice opponent, Mickey made the boisterous claim to Rocky: "You'll be able to spit nails, kid. Like the guy says, you're gonna eat lightning and you're gonna crap thunder. You're gonna become a very dangerous person"
  • shortly later, in the most memorable sequence of the film (a montage accompanied by the rousing song "Gonna Fly" (by Bill Conti)), Rocky underwent further grueling training and workouts; at dawn, he ran beneath an overhead train, made another run through the City of Brotherly Love's streets and marketplaces, jogged along the city's waterway, punched a bag, performed one-armed pushups, took punches to his mid-section, executed endless situps, pounded more slabs of beef, did more pushups, sprinted along the harbor, and dashed (and flew) up the endless steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, taking many steps with each leap; he turned and faced the panorama of the city, with his hands triumphantly raised in the air; although his first run up the endless steps was overwhelmingly difficult, this run was effortless
"Gonna Fly" Montage
  • the cover story "Italian Stallion" in TEMPO Magazine (red-bordered like Time Magazine) displayed Rocky's fighting stance
  • the night before the big-time bout, Rocky visited the deserted Philadelphia Spectrum, the setting for the Bicentennial bout, climbed up into the ring lined with thick red ropes, walked around the interior of the ring (as the camera followed him 360 degrees around) and stared at the two gigantic posters of the combatants facing each other at opposite ends
  • returning to his apartment, he spoke to Adrian and confessed his minimal chances - that he couldn't win and beat Apollo, but then explained his ultimate goals for the fight - to go the distance to prove that he wasn't just a "bum from the neighborhood" ("Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed. And if I can go that distance, ya see, and that bell rings, ya know, and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, ya see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood")
  • the night of the big fight, an exciting 15-round fight that pitted world-heavyweight show-boating champ Apollo Creed against Rocky - preparations were made in the opponents' locker rooms - hand-taping, vaseline under the eyes, nasal spray, etc.; Rocky knelt to pray in his maroon and gold 'Italian Stallion' robe
Preparations in Each Locker Room
  • as the two fighters entered the arena, the announcers called a "fifty-to-one underdog living a Cinderella story"; Creed entered the Bicentennially-decorated ring with tremendous fanfare, dressed up in a George Washington wig and period costume and riding in a boat - supposedly impersonating the famous President who crossed the Delaware, and then in the ring unveiled an Uncle Sam outfit; he boldly predicted finishing the bout in three rounds ("Creed in Three")
  • in the first round, Creed was surprised by the southpaw's upswinging left hook, sending him to the floor; as the fight proceeded through many rounds, the battered Creed was stunned that the challenger refused to fall or acknowledge being beaten, and kept punching back
Fighting Highlights
  • in the 14th round, Rocky was sent to the canvas, but he crawled to his corner and managed to pull himself up with the ropes; ignoring Mickey's pleading "Down! Down! Stay down!", he managed to pull himself up with the ropes, and with a new burst of tenacious energy, he pounded Creed's ribs and sides with body punches as the bell rang
  • before the final round, Rocky's bloodied face and swollen eyes caused him to plead with Micky to cut his eyelids ("Cut me, Mick!"); in the 15th round, Creed survived a flurry of blows to his injured mid-section, but held on; when the final bell rang, as the two fighters fell against each other and the referee tried to separate them, Creed blurted out: "Ain't gonna be no rematch," and Rocky replied: "Don't want one"
  • unable to see, Rocky was surrounded by hordes of questioning reporters and interviewers, but he showed little concern about the fight's outcome; he shouted out for Adrian ("Adrian!"), as she struggled to reach ringside from the locker room while calling out his name: "Rocky!"; Jergens described the monumental fight: "the greatest exhibition of guts and stamina in the history of the ring"; Apollo Creed narrowly won by a split decision


  • in the triumphant uplifting conclusion, Adrian finally reached Rocky inside the ring - the real and true champion who had gone the distance - she exclaimed: "I love you"; he lovingly hugged and embraced her and declared his own love for her: "I love you!" - the final, heart-lifting image freeze-framed on Rocky's swollen, messy and battered face next to Adrian's
The Triumphant Ending

Cornerman: "You're fightin' like a bum"

"The Italian Stallion"

Rocky's Idol on A Poster - Rocky Marciano

Strong-Arm Rocky Shaking Down a Laborer to Collect on a Debt to a Loan Shark

Loan Shark Tom Gazzo (Joe Spinell)

Adrian Hiding Behind Bars of a Bird Cage

First View of Boxing Champ Apollo Creed on TV

Apollo Creed's Proposal to Fight a Local Boxer

Rocky and Adrian Leaving For Their Date


Jergens' Offer to Rocky to Fight Apollo Creed

Apollo's Quip During TV Broadcast: "If he can't fight, I bet he can cook"

Mick's Offer to Help Rocky For His Upcoming Fight

Rocky: "What about my prime, Mick?"

Reconciling with Mick at the End of the Street

Rocky Punching Hanging Meat at Paulie's Workplace

In the Meat Packing Warehouse with a TV Crew

Paulie Threatening With a Baseball Bat

Mickey's Claim to Rocky: "You're gonna crap thunder..."

TEMPO Magazine - Rocky's Cover

In The Arena The Night Before

Heart-to-Heart Talk with Adrian

Rocky vs.

Creed (Dressed Up as George Washington and then as Uncle Sam)

Creed Knocked Down with Left Hook in First Round

"Cut me Mick, cut me"

Creed: "Ain't gonna be no rematch" Rocky: "Don't want one"


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