I love Rocky III , but perhaps not for the reasons the film makers intended. It’s one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, and I can’t watch it without collapsing into fits of giggles.
Back in the heady days of the late ’70’s I’d loved Rocky, the heroic story of a young, struggling man beating all the odds to create a career for himself out of nothing but hard work and an ability to get punched repeatedly without falling over.
By Rocky III expectations had grown and so had I, I was in High School and I was drafted, along with a couple of friends, by a local language school to take their kids who were in the UK from Francophone Africa along to the cinema each week as part of their “cultural experience”. I didn’t get paid, but I did get a free ticket, pop and popcorn, which seemed a pretty sweet deal to me.
The kids would often ask questions about what was going on. With films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and ET, my job was easy. Ghandi and Chariots of Fire were a bit of a disaster. Fast paced physical comedy, or all action movies were certainly a good choice. Rocky III seemed perfect.
Sadly, my ability to quietly summarize the ridiculous level of emotional manipulation in Rocky III was tested beyond its limits. The more I tried to sombrely explain what was happening between Rocky and his trainer, the sillier it seemed, and when the film reached it’s central emotional peak, I was sat in the middle of 20 teens laughing hysterically. Fortunately the cinema wasn’t full, but the usher came to warn us that our reaction was inappropriate.
We sat through the rest of the film, three rows of kids with their shoulders shaking with repressed mirth, our students baffled at what was going on, and us unable to speak for fear of a laughing fit getting us ejected.
I’m so glad I didn’t have to take anyone to see “Rocky Ivy” as the next film in the series was affectionately known. Emotional manipulation is hard to explain, add in some late cold war silliness and over-baked patriotism and try explaining that to rich kids from West Africa.
“Eye of The Tiger” made the film, but was only recorded because Queen wouldn’t release the rights for “Another One Bites The Dust”, I’m so glad they made that choice, but less glad that Stallone chose to wear a crop bra top whilst training in the gym.
Get the Rocky movie box-set, see how a great movie franchise is born with hard work and great ideas, see it get fat and complacent, then try to desperately regain its standing with increasingly absurd ploys.before finally accepting what it is, coming to terms with that and creating a dignified legacy.
I still can’t pass a set of outdoor concrete steps without running up and down them singing “Eye of The Tiger”.