Eight Reasons to Watch 'Rocky II'

You know, "sequel," can be a dirty word. They make money, sure, but does the world need a follow-up to a tidily, self-contained part one? Really, did we gain anything from "Caddyshack II" we didn't get in the original? But we also shouldn't overlook the occasional sequel that improves on the original and use that source material to construct a more complex work -- "The Godfather, Part II" or "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," for example. "Rocky II," you'll be happy to know is one of those -- a worthy successor to one of the best sports movies of all time.

But why should the mere promise of not tarnishing your memories of the original "Rocky" be reason enough to tune into our "KCET Presents" screening of "Rocky II" at 9 p.m. this Sunday? Here are eight more reasons to tune in.

Didn't see "Rocky I"? Or just don't remember it? No problem. "Rocky II" opens with the final moments of the original "Rocky." And that's especially handy, because it will remind you that Sylvester Stallone's original turn doesn't end well: Rocky loses to Apollo Creed. With all the "Rocky" sequels and Rocky Balboa being remembered as this classic cinematic champ, it can be easy to forget that his first big showdown in the ring ended in failure.

Stallone's commitment to acting. According to IMDb, Stallone tore his right pectoral muscle while working out in preparation for the film's climactic fight. He did the scene anyway. Ouch.

Talia Shire's finding strength behind Adrian. Shire, who scored a Best Actress nomination for the first "Rocky," pulls of an impressive feet here: She convinces you that she's the powerful character in this film even when she's surrounded by rippling muscles. As Talia plays her, Adrian seems shy, but she's not afraid to make her feelings heard. And in the end, Rocky returns to the ring as much to win her respect as he does to claim the title that eluded him in the first film.

The training montage. Why don't more movies have training montages? This one -- with Rocky running with the children of Philadelphia through the city streets -- makes me dig up my cross trainers. Please enjoy:

Also, the scene works on a whole different level if you imagine that the children are actually chasing Rocky.

Frank Stallone. Yep, Sylvester's little brother -- the Billy Carter to Sylvester's Jimmy, if you will -- makes an appearance. Frank is a singer who launched his career by crooning on street corners in Philadelphia. So about 19 minutes into "Rocky II," when you see a vaguely Stallone-looking dude crooning on a Philadelphia street corner, know that it's Frank making a cameo.

That one guy from "E.R." Were you an "E.R." fan? Perhaps you remember actor Paul McCrane, who played Dr. Romano, the bulldoggish, bald-headed chief of surgery? The mean guy who made inappropriate comments? And who got his arm chopped off in a propeller rotor? While still in his teens, McCrane appears as a young Rocky Balboa fan. Check out the clip here:

Sylvester Stallone chasing a chicken. Speaking of clips worth previewing, there's an awesome one of Sylvester Stallone trying to catch a chicken as a form of training. Watch it here:

Yes, it's an Italian dub, but it's the best I could do given the limited availability of "Rocky II" clips online. The language barrier won't prevent you from enjoying watching Sylvester Stallone run in a circle, trying to grab a chicken. In fact, had they just made the sequel "Rocky II: Rocky vs. a Chicken," I would have liked the movie just as much.

The Penguin. With a new "Batman" in theaters this weekend, it's hard not to mention that Burgess Meredith -- who plays Rocky's gruff but loving trainer, Mickey -- also played The Penguin back in the old '60s "Batman" series. If you close your eyes and just listen to Meredith's voice, it's entirely possible to envision The Penguin giving Rocky orders instead of Mickey.

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My mom was in this film, or I probably would never have watched it. Turns out it wasn't all that bad, I'm just not into people punching each other to make a living (I'm not much into football either) ;) It actually had a story to it!

Anyhow, TY for posting this from the late 70's... definitely brings back memories!

My mom worked on this for what was supposed to be a 1 week assignment, turned out to be 3-4 weeks on the set & on location, although I don't recall where she went - I didn't go to the filming.

Again, TY for the memories! She passed away in 1994, and strangely enough, I'd been having dreams about her the last week or so. She was also in a lot of other movies & series in the 1970's & 80's. To me, it was just a job she went to, and yes, we'd get rushed at the grocery store from people wanting her autograph, that used to piss off my father (he didn't want her to work). These people thought she was a gal she's doubled for back then, Angie Dickinson.

We didn't keep much, if anything, from the movies & series she was in, except a Rocky II button that I think I still have, and a picture with her and Angie Dickinson that I think my son has.

It makes you miss the days when series were filmed with a live audience & movies had very little CG, although it would be neat to open that up to the public more too!

I'd been on several movie sets with her, helping the directors & just hanging out with the people, the great food that made some of the VERY long hours worth while (sadly, I understand that's a thing of the past & "catering", if they have it at all is "Kraft service", hardly the shrimp, lobster, steaks, burgers, really great salads, tons of desserts & other goodies they used to have.)

Sadly it's just not the same any more!

Perhaps Huell Howser will do a show on the way sets & location used to be vs. how it is now, and Hollywood will take a cue from that & make set food the way they used to?

Those were special times & even the "B" movies for foreign markets on location had great food for everyone, including the extras! Back then, I met a LOT of VERY interesting people who were extras that sometimes got parts in some of the movies, just being at the right place at the right time, and having the right look for a movie or movies.

I never had an interest in being in front of the camera, yet I had a blast helping chase chickens to keep them from running towards & past the camera on the tracks, but did wind up on a number of films underwater & topside for Discovery, the news, etc. doing research & as a SCUBA instructor, an acting dive master/safety diver for film crews, and my daughter on the news "shooting the pier" at Ventura Point on her surfboard into the '90's. I just wanted to do research & knew we needed exposure for the project to stay alive, and for public awareness.

I'll have to go see the new Batman! I'd LOVE to see a marathon of everything from the 1st Batman TV show (I think was the cartoon?), through this last installment of the series, preferably in a theater with no commercials, yet perhaps with those who created, wrote & acted in all of them. I'd already seen something similar with the Rocky movies, only without the actors, writers, producers, PAs, set designers & the unsung heroes of ANY movie, those who built the set, did the pyrotechnics & so on.

Most people have no idea what it takes to build all those things, which IMHO should be used to house those who can't afford a home, as SO much in materials gets destroyed with every movie or series made, then discarded. This takes it's toll on those who build & decorate these beautiful sets, and SO much is bulldozed, when it could be far better used to house people & decorate homes, as most of these people live in apartments, the risks of being injured on the job is high & those people don't get paid nearly enough to be able to buy a home of their own, which is sad. The sets these people build are far nicer than the homes they live in, again, usually apartments. The industry needs to let these people build a community of single-family homes, so their families can have stability. And counseling, as for some of these people, building sets that are only seen for a few minutes on-screen, are built with much care, generally more than what most homes are built with, only to see, or hear, that it's been torn down. Some of these people don't handle this well, and certainly aren't paid enough. Some are injured & some die making sets, but unless a star is injured or killed, the public rarely if ever hears about it.

On a better note, "Extras" (the people you see in the backgrounds of movies, series, etc.) are an interesting group of people from all walks of life. One used to be able to make a living doing this type of work, but not anymore, which is sad - especially since they are paid by the day, weather it's a couple of hours, or a grueling 20-hour shift with 4 hours until they are back on the set again. They also have to watch for the many, many scams out there, which wastes time in job searches & those running scams I doubt ever pay for the gas, phone & time those people put into looking for a job when they run across these scumbags. I've heard some really bad horror stories from people about this sort of thing.

Anyhow, TY again for the old Rocky II prep/training reels! Memories!