I just finished rewatching the original Rocky for the first time in like, what, six years? Can it really have been that long? How weird.
It's practically an indie film, you know? It was made in less than a month, cost only a little over one million dollars (Star Wars, released a year later, got a budget of 8 mil and people think of it as low-budget?), uses real locations in and around Philadelphia, and Stallone not only starred in and wrote it himself, he choreographed the fight scenes too! His kid brother is one of the street singers, and his dad is the guy that rings the bell that opens the final fight.
And the whole movie has that sort of gritty indie film feel to it too. Sure, II, III, and IV are glitzy big-budget fun. But the original is more of a character study than a movie about boxing. People look at me funny when I say it's a sweet, quiet movie. They're like, "How can a Rocky movie be quiet? It's about two guys punching each other." But it is. The punching is a side issue. The real point is this nice guy who's been a nobody all his life, who never had a prime, and who suddenly gets a chance to live the dream. He just happens to be a boxer -- it could be about baseball or golf or sprinting or horse racing or championship chess, and it'd still be about this decent guy trying to deal with being offered a glimpse of life beyond the street.
Of course, I grew up with the Rocky movies -- when I was a kid I even tried to imitate his walk (maybe this is still why I swing my non-existent shoulders when I walk). And I think even as a kid, one of the things that drew me to the character was the way he treats Adrian. He's very sweet to her, very patient and even gallant. And since I've always been shy (though not quite so painfully shy as Adrian) I think I appreciated that a lot. A big tough cool guy who takes time to talk to the shy little girl standing in the corner and doesn't just ignore her like everyone else. What's not to love?
So, gonna go watch Rocky II now while I'm at it. Feeling all nostalgic and fuzzy :-)