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Ringside Story

ROCKY, directed by John G. Avildsen; screenplay by Sylvester Stallone; produced by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff; executive producer, Gene Kirkwood; director of photography, James Crabe; editor, Richard Halsey; music, Bill Conti; distributed by United Artists. Running time: 121 minutes. At the Cinema II Theater, Third Avenue near 60th Street. This film has been rated PG.
Rocky . . . Sylvester Stallone
Adrian . . . Talia Shire
Paulie . . . Burt Young
Apollo . . . Carl Weathers
Mickey . . . Burgess Meredith
Jergens . . . Thayer David
Gazzo . . . Joe Spinell
Mike . . . Jimmy Gambina

Still, it’s frustrating not to see Rapp evolve into the paperback chart-topping professional he’ll become — his unearned cool undermines the whole point of Flynn’s prequel, which is left having no point at all. O’Brien could grow into the role. He has an earnest, high voice — perhaps the reason he’s barely allowed to speak — and shines in the rare scenes where he gets to show personality, as do Keaton and Kitsch when they put down their guns. (Though Kitsch’s best scene involves a nasty pair of pliers.) It’d be more fun to watch the three actors swap war stories over beers than batter each other — especially when their worst enemy is the script’s coma-inducing machismo.

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