I’ve got some great news for those of you who are fans of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. There’s a behind-the-scenes documentary coming out titled 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic and it will get a digital on-demand release on June 9th.
The film comes from Virgil Films & Entertainment and it was directed by Derek Wayne Johnson, who profiled the director of Rocky in his 2017 film John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs. The late Avidsen had a collection of the 8mm footage that he shot during the production of the classic 1976 film and that footage “forms the basis of the new documentary.” Rocky’s screenwriter and star Sylvester Stallone is narrating the doc.
Some of the other behind-the-scenes footage that we’ll see in the doc comes from Rocky’s production manager Lloyd Kaufman, who went on to run Troma Entertainment, the home of B-movies like The Toxic Avenger. None of this footage has ever been seen before and it shows “makeup tests, boxing choreography sessions and other moments involving Stallone and co-stars Carl Weathers and Talia Shire.”
Stallone’s narration describes not only the shooting of the film but the story behind getting it green-lit and how he preserved his original script and starring role, one of the legendary film business fables. In a stream-of-consciousness style, the star recalls details like the origin of Rocky Balboa’s pork pie hat. Stallone says he picked it up for $3 in a Philadelphia shop and thought it “completed” the character and was the boxer’s “suit of armor.” He fended off arguments from studio execs and producers, who thought he should ditch the hat because they felt it would be seen as copying Gene Hackman’s look in The French Connection.
This sounds like it’s going to be a great doc!