By punchin’ Emmet
Now that the fabulous weather has arrived (best in the country) I have ignored all those plans for walking, kayaking and biking. For reasons unknown I have become the Cobb Manor hermit. First, it was a disastrous, hacking unseasonal cough. But even when it gratefully left, I stayed on the couch like it was February.
I have become a Netflix addict, a “binge watcher.”
Last week, for the glorious Fourth of July weekend, it was “Rocky,” all of them. Netflix decided to test the limits of my addiction by showing them all. You might have been off at the fireworks (in the rain), eating hot dogs at a family barbeque, or drinking Twisted Tea on Big Pine Island. Not me. I was lying on the couch watching “Rocky.” All of them.
Like everyone else, I loved the first “Rocky” as a totally unique movie, with that fabulous theme song. I had just started “running” on Martinsville roads in 1976 and I whistled, sang and hummed the theme as I struggled to reach Martinsville Beach.
So, when I started watching the first “Rocky” production this weekend I could not turn it off. I was fully stocked with potato salad (the staff of life) and red hot dogs. I was hooked.
I forgot how funny they were.
My very favorite boxing movie line was from Paul Newman in the Rocky Graziano bio “Somebody up There Likes Me.” In his championship bout, Graziano is getting pounded and the ref is considering stopping the fight. The ref stops over and asks the minimal test, “What’s your name?” Graziano thinks about it for a sec and says “Gimme a hint.” Of course the ref allows Graziano to continue and he wins the fight.
In the “Rocky” series, a club fighter nicknamed the Italian Stallion is given a title fight against the champion after a cancellation by another fighter. “Rocky” actually loses the fight by a slim margin, but he goes the distance and pounds the champ. It was a simple story, made for $1 million which earned an Oscar and $225 million. Sylvester Stallone created and starred in the series which made him a major film star.
After the first, legendary title fight, Rocky is sitting at a press conference with bumps, bruises, contusions and abrasions with his eyes almost closed with swelling. “Do you feel lucky to last the whole fight?” asks a dumb-ass TV reporter. Rocky barely moves his head to answer “Do I look lucky?” In a press conference before the second Apollo Creed fight, another reporter asks Rocky if he can win the fight. “I dunno, He looks pretty mad,” the challenger said.
In one of the fights, I forget which; Rocky tells Mickey (Burgess Meredith), his manager that his nose is broken. “How’s my nose?” he asks the manager. “It’s an improvement,” is the answer. In the delightful relationship between fighter and manager, Rocky is asked why he wears that filthy, smelly sweatshirt; he replies that it brings him luck. “It brings you flies,” Mickey says. When Rocky is getting pounded by Apollo Creed, he tells the manager “I see three of him.” Naturally, Mickey replies “Hit the one in the middle.” When Mickey orders Rocky to do 500 pushups to get ready. Rocky does one shaky pushup and asks “Is that seven or eight?”
You hadda be there.
The fights are the highlight of the films, of course. But the charming sidelight is the slowly emerging relationship between the fighter and Adrian, the neighborhood pet shop girl. On the first date, Rocky says “I wanna kiss you. If you don’t wanna kiss me back, that’s o.k.” Then he says in his charming Philly accent” I think we make a sharp bunch of coconuts, you’re shy and I’m dumb. Whatta ya think?”
At the beginning of their charming (two loser) relationship, Yo Adrian asks Rocky why he indulges in the brutal game of boxing. “I can’t sing or dance,” says the deadpan pugilist.
Before another fight, his suddenly beautiful wife (Yo, Adrian) gives him some prefight encouragement. “How about if I stay here and you fight?” When The Rock starts making some big money, friends suggest that he invest his money for the future, like in condominiums. “I never use them,” says the Irish Catholic fighter. His manager advises The Rock to stay away from Yo, Adrian in the weeks leading up to the fight. “Women weaken legs,” he said in advice routinely ignored in the fight game.
And you thought I wasted the holiday weekend.
(I just discovered “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix. See you next week.)