As an unabashed lover of the Rocky movies
  • As an unabashed lover of the Rocky movies, primarily the first three movies in the series and most especially the Oscar winning original, I periodically get in the mood watch the DVD set that came out in 2006 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1976 original.

    Unable to fall asleep last night Scott Laughton Jersey, I re watched Rocky and the bonus features. In one of the most interesting segments, Sylvester Stallone who, it turns out, was just the victim of one of those celebrity death hoaxes on the internet told the story behind the ending of the movie and the film s final frame.

    As the project developed, the details of ending changed dramatically. In Stallone s first draft of the script a much darker and harsher story than the gritty fairy tale it became Rocky grows disgusted with boxing, takes a dive against Apollo and quits the business to start a new life with Adrian. In the version of the script that was later sold to United Artists, the final scene is set after the post fight chaos settles down amid Rocky going the distance and losing by split decision. As Spectrum empties, Rocky and Adrian leave hand in hand and finally disappear into the dark distance.

    The filmed ending did not test well at all with audiences it was still anticlimactic and a bit of a downer so the movie was edited to end while the characters were still in the ring. Almost by accident, they found the perfect spot to finish.

    In the famous final frame, Rocky s face is at the peak of a very personal triumph as he embraces Adrian. Even with all the tumult around them and with Apollo being announced in the background as the winner of the fight, nothing else exists but that moment for the main characters. It was freeze framed right there, because in the very next shot, Stallone s facial expression fell. Frozen one frame earlier, the greatest and most validating moment of protagonist s life became the story s exit.

    Why am I blogging about this? There is a Philadelphia Flyers connection; one that has nothing to do with where the Rocky movies were set. Back in the 1980s, the Flyers annually put out a stellar series of highlight movies that documented the previous season. For the 1984 85 season, entitled Beyond All Expectations, they found the perfect final frame before the credits and fadeout. They froze on Brad Marsh and his Flyers teammates celebrating right after the final buzzer of Game Six of the Wales Conference Final, just as the realization hits that the team is going to the Stanley Cup Final. It s an amazing moment of triumph captured at its pinnacle.

    It has struck me many times over the years how things, very shortly thereafter Brayden Schenn Jersey, would never be the same again for this group. The Flyers were so young collectively the youngest team in the NHL, in fact and the sky was the limit. Real life had not intruded yet. Most of the players were still single with no children. For the married Marsh, he and wife Patti were expected their first child in December.

    For the most part, their life experiences were such that they had never lost a close friend, parent or even grandparent yet. There was just hockey and their team for most of these guys, and everything in life had only good things ahead, or so it felt. Soon, they would all come to know levels of pain and grief that cut much deeper than losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the 1985 Stanley Cup Final.

    For the very same reason that the image above is such a sublime moment in time, the poignancy of the one below is heartbreaking to look at now.

    This carefree and playful photo of Pelle Lindbergh and fiancee Kerstin apparently selected from among some spontaneously added on snapshots at the end of a photo shoot at their home as part of a feature story on Lindbergh s rise to NHL stardom is also one that depicts youth and happy times.

    When Thomas Tynander and I co created the English version of Pelle Lindbergh Behind the White Mask, one of the most important elements that we wanted to put across was how Pelle s life and the experiences of his 1984 85 and early 1985 86 Flyers teammates were almost like a real life fairy tale that turned into a nightmare as a result of a night of bad judgments and an eerie confluence of circumstances. Their dream world shattered suddenly and jarringly as Lindbergh s custom made Porsche hit the juncture where the wall and steps met as he so carelessly failed to negotiate a curve and sped off the road at the intersection of Somerdale Road and Ogg Avenue.

    Some folks who read the Pelle book got the impression, which was neither Thomas intent nor mine, that we were making apologies for Pelle driving after he drank a significant amount of alcohol on the fateful night of November 9 10, 1985.

    The intention in building the biography was to show that, while he already most certainly had a tendency to drive way too fast, it was out of character for him to drink during the season. That is supported by the collectively vehement testimony of those who knew him not some random internet person s friend s cousin s buddy s former roommate who swears they know the truth or those who have promulgated a variety of urban legends about the crash.

    However, the much bigger point was this It didn t matter what Pelle usually did. It only matters what he did on the night in question. He drank too much that night, tried to show off his fancy sports car for his friends as he drove in the wee hours and wound killing himself and causing injuries to them. Another reality was that pretty much all of his teammates did the very same thing that night which was rather prevalent behavior pretty much everywhere in the hockey world in those days and most certainly not unique to those on any particular team but those guys made it home.

    Even more than the tragedy of Pelle causing his own demise as sad and tragic as his loss was was both from human and hockey terms the most compelling part is how those who were left behind had to process the grief, cope and carry on his parents and Kerstin, his teammates and closest friends, the Flyers as a hockey team and organization.

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