Rocky is a fine and fond movie that attracts adjectives: gritty, tough, tender, affecting, inspiring, warmly human, really neat. Small is beautiful is a concept that can also apply to this art form. Sylvester Stallone (The Lords of Flatbush) wrote the screenplay and plays the lead in this movie. In an interview, he has stated: "I think the primary objective of creative art — of film art — is to create these simplistic stories that touch everyone and affect their lives through giving them heroes, through answering questions."

The hero we get in Rocky is "the Italian Stallion," a hard-muscled southpaw boxer who's not bad enough to quit and not good enough to make it into the big time. A trainer at the gym in the Philadelphia slum where he lives tells him: "You're a tomato…You got the heart but you fight like an ape." In his spare time, Rocky works as a heavy for a loan shark. But he can't even bring himself to break the thumb of a client since he knows the man may be worse off than he is. Rocky's heart goes out to Adrian, an ugly duckling who blooms under the nurturance of his love. She becomes devoted to him.

Fate tips its hat when Apollo Clete, the heavyweight champ, chooses him as his replacement opponent in a special contest to celebrate the Bicentennial. No one believes that Rocky has a chance. But he surprises everyone including himself. Sylvester Stallone's performance is sheer magic — an authentic and touching portrait of a loser who becomes a winner in the things that matter. Talia Shire is excellent as Adrian; Burgess Meredith, mangy as his manager; and Burt Young, good as Adrian's touchy brother. John Avildsen's direction is a tour de force of style and substance.

Not only does Rocky give us a memorable hero, but as Stallone promised it answers basic questions. Is it worth sticking with one's dreams? Yes, no matter what. Is winning the most important thing in a contest? No, it's the courage to go the distance with the best that one's got that counts. Is success the highest achievement? No, love matters much more. Don't miss Rocky — it's one of the best films of 1976!