Mr. Stallone’s Rocky is less a performance than an impersonation. It’s all superficial mannerisms and movements, reminding me of Rodney Dangerfield doing a nightclub monologue… Throughout the movie we are asked to believe that his Rocky is compassionate, interesting, even heroic, though the character we see is simply an unconvincing actor imitating a lug.
Ouch! From the NY TImes archives, Vincent Canby reviews Rocky in 1976.
(Roger Ebert, on the other hand, compared Stallone to a young Marlon Brando. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated beefed about Rocky’s punch selection.)
Sylvester Stallone got the last laugh, in any case: Rocky won the Oscar for best picture, and Stallone was nominated as best actor.