Column: Rocky still a knockout on television

By By Will Bardwell / sports writer
July 15, 2004
It's about time American Movie Classics started living up to its name.
The oft-ignored cable TV channel has been a haven for tired old films for years. I guess you haven't seen much out of "The Fabulous Baker Boys" or "Jaws: The Revenge" lately, have you? That's because they limped on over to AMC to curl up and die, and they took some good friends like "Prizzi's Honor" with them.
The thing about AMC that drives me nuts is that they show the same movies over and over again. Sometimes I get lucky when they throw "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" into the mix, but most of the time, it's the same two or three yawn-fests shown one after the other.
Only on special occasions does AMC shell out 20 bucks for a new addition to its bland movie collection. So when that happens, AMC shows the "new" (new to them, at least) movie about 50 times per week. That usually earns them a split second on my screen as I make tracks toward the Food Network for re-runs of "Iron Chef."
But not lately.
One of those previously-mentioned special occasions rolled around earlier this month the Fourth of July. The day that wee little America got in big, bad England's grill and told the world's greatest military power to bring it on. And the folks at AMC knew that the American fighting spirit is appropriately honored by only one movie series.
It's by far my favorite movie series. Sometimes, when I realize that Rocky Balboa isn't really the heavyweight champion of the world, I start to cry. To me, the idea of a self-made champion who triumphs against all odds and reasoning never gets old.
Okay, maybe it's a little old by the time Rocky ends up back in south Philadelphia in "Rocky V." And sure, all the sequels are more or less remakes of the first one, but the original is a masterpiece. And the entertaining nuances in the sequels are more than enough to keep me interested.
A full 24 hours of "Rocky" is enticing, too, and that's what I got on Independence Day.
Starting at 5 a.m. on July 4, AMC aired the entire "Rocky" series from beginning to end. Twice. And then, just for good measure, the network tacked on the final three installments again.
A couple of half-hour specials tracking a man's transformation into a Balboa-esque fighter were thrown in to break up the monotony, but I don't hold that against network execs.
Including those shows, AMC was the definitive "Rocky" network until "Rocky V" ended for the third time at 10:30 a.m. on July 5 nearly 30 hours after the marathon began.
I was in heaven.
Since then, AMC has shown the movies a few times each week. "Rocky IV" was on early Wednesday morning, and it's showing again on Friday at 7 p.m.
The fourth installment is one of my favorites, but I've seen them all a thousand times. I know every plot detail and almost every line.
Detractors bash the movies as tired, repetitive and cliche'. Typically, these detractors have never seen "Rocky" or any of its sequels. While the last four movies are definitely "guy movies," the original is a wonderful film.
Unlike the sequels, which are essentially boxing movies with inner conflict thrown in, "Rocky" is a story about inner conflict with a little boxing thrown in. Balboa is a nobody, and with nothing but hard work, he overcomes obstacles that never seemed surpassable.
Character development, which is handled superbly in "Rocky," takes a back seat to trite dialog later in the series, but that makes for some enjoyable moments too. Like when, prior to a rematch against Balboa in "Rocky III," Clubber Lang (Mr. T) tells a television reporter, "I'm gonna torture him. I'm gonna crucify him. Real bad." Or when Balboa single-handedly ends the Cold War after a fight against Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in Moscow when he declares, "If I can change, and you can change everybody can change!"
But cheesy writing aside, a clear message came out of every "Rocky" movie. As Rocky's loyal wife Adrian told him in the fifth film, "All those fighters you beat, you beat them with heart, not muscle." Each of Rocky's fights was less a fight against a boxer and more a fight against his own limits. And whether or not he won a fight, he almost always beat his limits.
That message never gets old even after four or five nights a week.

Franklin County

Distinguished Young Women deadline approaches

College Sports

NWSCC adds volleyball to growing Patriot athletics program

News

Russellville Parks and Rec adult softball league grows interest

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Thomas Randall Miller

Franklin County

Community Spirit Bank announces promotion

Franklin County

Police search underway for man wanted in three states

Franklin County

Local students earn collegiate honors

East Franklin

PHOTOS: East Franklin Junior High awards honors

News

Traveling band makes stop at Phil Campbell High School

News

Russellville Parks and Rec holds adult sandlot softball game

Galleries

PHOTOS: Community celebrates Fourth of July with annual Jam on Sloss Lake

News

Second Canadian Phil greeted by town

Franklin County

Franklin County Schools lead nurse school nurse named administrator of the year

News

Former Russellville resident performs in ‘Miracle Worker’

Galleries

PHOTOS: Russellville, Red Bay public libraries enjoy summer reading program events

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight: Robbie Richardson

News

University of Mississippi announces spring Chancellor’s Honor Roll

News

PHOTOS: Community turns out for Phil Campbell Festival

Franklin County

University of Alabama announces spring graduates

Franklin County

Dean’s, president’s lists students named for UA spring term

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Hugh Plott

Galleries

PHOTOS: Inaugural downtown Russellville Art Crawl winners

Galleries

PHOTOS: Russellville Public Library holds princess, pirates bounce party

Franklin County

Northwest Shoals Community College signs 24 students in FAME class

x