|Forget the sequels. Forget Sylvester Stallone's career rise to mega-star status
(by the way, where has he been lately? Oh, that's right -- he took a wrong turn with Driven). Just go back
to the first time you saw Rocky. The packed theater, the movie-goers cheering like they had
ringside seats. Few films can do that. Was it an artistic masterpiece? Probably not
(although it did win Best Picture). But it was an emotional one.
||2. Raging Bull
|Some consider it one of the best movies ever made. Many
consider it the best made during the '80s. But the Academy didn't even consider
it the best of 1980 (beaten out by Ordinary People, no less!). Even so, Robert DeNiro
was incredible as Jake LaMotta, earning a Best Actor Oscar in the process. Martin Scorsese
was at the top of his game. Unlike Rocky, which tugged at your heartstrings, DeNiro's LaMotta
kept punching you in the face with cold, harsh reality.
||3. Requiem For A Heavyweight
|Anthony Quinn plays a boxer at the end of his
career who must deal with his failing health and a manager who no longer believes in
him. Cassius Clay (pre-Muhammad Ali) and Jack Dempsey make appearances. No Oscar
nominations but a well-crafted flick.
||4. Body And Soul
|The first really good boxing movie. John Garfield is an
amateur who grudgingly turns pro after his father dies. The movie is thought to have
influenced how Scorsese made Raging Bull. It also spawned two remakes, including the 1998 version with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini that will be released on DVD in February.
||5. When We Were Kings
|This documentary on the Rumble in the Jungle is
as good as it gets. Ali shows why he's an international star, and seeing George Foreman in his
pre-Grill days reminds us just how feared he was.
||6. Somebody Up There Likes Me
|Paul Newman stars in this biography of Rocky
Graziano. It's an underrated movie and Newman, in his third movie, was just beginning to flex his acting muscles.
Meanwhile, Steve McQueen makes his film debut.
||7. On The Waterfront
|Marlon Brando. "I coulda been a contender!" Karl Malden,
Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger -- all perfect for a boxing movie. So was Hoboken, N.J., where many of the exteriors were shot. Really, do you need anything
||8. The Harder They Fall
|Humphrey Bogart as ... no, not a boxer but a washed-up
sportswriter hired to promote a fighter from Argentina. It was Bogart's last film -- the next year, he died of throat cancer. Steiger pops up again. In fact, Steiger seems so intent on being in boxing movies that he
appeared in F.I.S.T, a bad Stallone flick that actually had nothing to do with
boxing. Guess the title misled Rod.
|Kirk Douglas in a flashback of how his Midge Kelly climbed to the top. Douglas
was nominated for Best Actor, and the film received five other nominations (but only
one win, for film editing).
||10. Fat City
|The legendary John Huston directed this tale of two boxers, one
(Jeff Bridges) on the way up, the other (Stacy Keach) on the way down. The late
Nicholas Colasanto is a trainer -- a role that probably helped shape his character as
Coach on Cheers.