Boxing icon Marciano merits a movie biography alongside those afforded Jake LaMotta, Jim Bradford, Rocky Graziano and others; this ropes-to-riches TV movie will suffice until something more incisive comes along.
After his retirement, the redoubtable Rocky Marciano (Jon Favreau) capitalizes on his boxing triumphs with public appearances. Flashbacks reveal that Rocky Marchegiano was born into poverty in Brockton, Massachusetts -- that’s why he becomes a stickler about being paid in cash. Having seen his father, Pierino (George C. Scott) support his family with back-breaking factory labor while the children of earlier waves of immigrants taunt the newly arrived Italians, Rocky literally punches his way out of a dead-end life. Using Joe Louis (Duane Davis) as his role model, Rocky defeats the toughest amateurs in Boston through brute force. Undeterred by his sloppy technique, handler Al Weill (Judd Hirsch) agrees to manage Rocky in exchange for half his future earnings. Weill rechristens his hot new property and introduces him to powerful promoter Frankie Carbo (Tony LoBianco), who also exploits the naive pugilist. Afraid of ending up a counterman like former lightweight champ Lou Ambers (Wayne Robson) or a bankrupt legend like Joe Louis, Rocky entrusts his savings to a childhood friend, who mismanages the investment. In 1952, Rocky wrests the heavyweight title from Jersey Joe Walcott but sours on the seamy side of the boxing business. Upon retiring in 1956, he criss-crosses the country as a motivational speaker. In 1969, during one such tour, he dies in a plane crash, one day short of his 46th birthday.
Favreau lands this production’s sole knockout punch: He captures both the undefeated heavyweight champ's outward bravado and inner insecurity. Fight fans will cheer the restaging of famous bouts, but the unconvincing performances of much of the cast undermines the drama.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: Boxing icon Marciano merits a movie biography alongside those afforded Jake LaMotta, Jim Bradford, Rocky Graziano and others; this ropes-to-riches TV movie will suffice until something more incisive comes along. After his retirement, the redoubtable Roc… (more)