Thirty-Five years ago today, Rocky IV hit the silver screen. 27 November 1985 was a Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. In my hometown we didn’t normally get new movies on a Wednesday, new movies hit the theater on Fridays. Rocky IV was no exception. So it was on Black Friday 1985 I went to the mall with a friend, not to shop for Christmas gifts, for something better. To watch a brand new Rocky movie!
We went to the first showing, around noon, on Friday. We (mostly) beat the crowds, the theater was still packed but not sold out like a Friday night movie. Most of the people at the mall were there for the deals, not the movies. After the movie we headed to the food court, grabbed a slice of pizza and a pop and sat down to relive the movie we just saw.
We couldn’t get enough of the movie, even the robot maid didn’t bother us. I thought the robot was a cool piece of technology. What kid wouldn’t want a robot maid, hello Rosey the Robot! (More on the robot below)
I saw Rocky IV twice over the Thanksgiving weekend. It remained in our theater until the end of the year and I’d see it one more time before it left for good. The next summer it was a standard to rent from the local video store.
If you don’t know the story… what’s wrong with you!
Over the last 35 years, I’ve seen Rocky IV more times than I can count and it remains my favorite movie in the Rocky franchise. The training montage in Russia is one of my favorites. Watching Rocky use old school techniques; lifting rocks, sawing logs and pulling a sled juxtaposed with Drago’s high-tech, juiced up training regiment is a fantastic contrast.
While Rocky IV was released on Thanksgiving, its always been more of a Christmas movie for me. Maybe because the fight took place on Christmas Day. I watch it sometime after Thanksgiving and before New Year’s Day, every year! It never gets old and is exciting to watch, even though I know the outcome!
Rocky IV was slammed by the critics, it gets a sub-par 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, which goes to show you the critics don’t know what they are talking about! Critics always get it wrong, in 1985 the big winner at the Oscar’s was Out of Africa, I tried watching it, it’s a snooze fest. There’s no 20th, 25th or 30th anniversary Blu-ray for Out of Africa.
The only critic who got it right was Gene Siskel, while his partner Roger Ebert slammed the movie and gave it 2 out of 4 stars. Siskel enjoyed the movie and the characters giving it 3.5 out of 4 stars.
Critics pan it for bad dialogue, a stale formula, and to many montages, but Rocky IV is the highest grossing Rocky film ever, including the new Creed movies. It is a fan favorite for good reason, it’s an excellent movie. Rocky IV was the highest grossing sports movie for over 20 years, knocked out by The Blind Side in 2009, which I never saw.
In a year packed full of great movies, Rocky IV was easily one of the best movies of 1985. It’s definitely one of my favorites. The fourth installment in the Rocky Balboa saga pits Rocky against Ivan Drago, in a Cold War match-up for the ages.
While you’re loafing on the couch this weekend, eating left-over turkey sandwiches, turn on Rocky IV and celebrate its 35th Anniversary! I know I will.
Fun Facts about Rocky IV
- Sylvester Stallone thought it’d be more realistic if he and Dolph Lundgren really hit each other during the fight scene. During one exchange Lundgren hit Stallone so hard, Stallone suffered a bruised heart and was rushed to the hospital.
- Dolph Lundgren and Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed) did not get along on set. Weathers walked off set and threatened to quit the movie. Stallone had to step in and get the two actors to reconcile.
- Dolph Lundgren suggested his character, Drago, should be a silent, stoic opponent. The opposite of the previous two Rocky opponents, Apollo and Clubber Lang.
- Russian “Goodwill Ambassador” Katya Lycheva said the movie used Drago to vilify the Russian people… Duh, it’s the Cold War! ‘Merica!
- James Brown sings the entire song ‘Living In America’ in the movie.
- The only Rocky movie score not composed by Bill Conti. Conti was working on Karate Kid II at the time.
- Another Karate Kid tie-in; Peter Cetera wrote “Glory of Love” for Rocky IV but Stallone rejected it. “Glory of Love is the theme song of Karate Kid II.
- Rocky IV is 32% montages, that’s 28 minutes of montage footage in the 90 minute movie. (and the training montage is by far the best!)
- The robot used in the movie was created to help autistic children. Stallone used the robot in real-life as therapy for his autistic son. Stallone put the robot in the movie at the request of his son.
- The scenes filmed in “Soviet Russia” were actually filmed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
- The fight between Rocky and Drago was filmed in the Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia