Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Rocky Ending

Over on the Tony Isabella board I have been playing Bob Ingersoll's weekly Movie Quiz. Each week Bob comes up with a theme and then finds five films that point to that theme, with the final Friday film usually being a titular slam-dunk, i.e., the theme is in the name of the film. Anyway, today's movie was Rocky III, Bob's clue being "1982 When 'The Italian Stallion' is defeated by a brutal challenger, his former nemesis offers to retrain him in order to regain his fighting spirit." This got me thinking about when I worked at a theater in the 1970s.

In my half year or so working at a discount twin-screen theater one of the films we showed was the original Rocky. The theater got films in a few weeks to a month after everyone else got them, but we only charged $.99 a seat and had the best seating-to-screen size ratio in town, which made for a pretty nice viewing experience. We played Rocky for over a month and one of my jobs was to make sure there were no problems when a film ended and that people did not go out the emergency exit, which also allowed kids to sneak in (even at a $.99 movie it happened all the time), so I was always in the theater for the end of the movie.

The thing I noticed about Rocky was that I would get lots of questions from people asking me what happened at the end of the film. They just could not believe that Rocky lost the fight; they wanted the pat Hollywood ending. I would explain that Rocky lost the fight, but won his life, that he knew he couldn't beat Apollo but that to prove to himself that he was not "a bum" he needed to go the distance and had. Some people were satisfied with this, but some were not. To those still in doubt I would say, "Look where he was and who he was at the beginning of the film and look at where he ended up" and that usually turned on the light-bulb for most. A few though just never got that Rocky had a happy ending. Me? The first few times I saw Rocky I was in tears, but I am such a baby.

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