The new disposability of directors in recent blockbuster productions raises questions about the state of the art
It’s one of the most iconic endings in American cinema: battered, punch-drunk Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), having “gone the distance” against heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) calls out to his mousy girlfriend, Adrian (Talia Shire). Adrian pushes through the crowd, the two embrace, profess their love to one another to riotous applause. A sweet, tearful finale to Rocky’s story of against-all-odds underdogism. But it wasn’t meant to be that way.
As Stallone told the Los Angeles Times in 2016, Rocky was originally meant to crowd-surf across the audience to Adrian. But, hamstrung by a modest budget and a lack of extras, it wasn’t convincing. So Stallone and director John G. Avildsen reshot the sequence, making it more personal, strengthening the romance between Rocky and Adrian as the film’s real emotional center.