In the footsteps of Rocky in Philadelphia...
Philadelphia: Rocky Home Sweet Home
A failed boxer in search of existence, the character of Rocky Balboa never ceases to inspire generations. The perfect incarnation of the American dream, the saga of Sylvester Stallone has marked the history of cinema. More than forty years after the first film, Rocky’s name is certainly still attached to Philadelphia.
It’s a well-known song that opens the film. Gonna fly now, the official theme song composed by Bill Conti, enhances the white letters of Rocky scrolling from right to left on the black screen.
The music gradually fades out, letting the face of Jesus Christ painted on the wall fade into black. The camera moves away from it and reveals a ring in which Rocky Balboa and Spider Rico clash. If the script indicates that the fight takes place on November 25, 1975 at the Resurrection Gym.
Gonna fly now is not the only iconic Rocky song. The funk and soulful tunes of Take You Back make this song an unforgettable hit, performed a cappella by Frank Stallone, younger brother of the action movie king. The wall at the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Tusculum Street in Philadelphia where the scene was filmed.
A few yards below, it’s Rocky’s apartment at 1818 Tusculum Street in Philadelphia. However, only the outdoor scenes were shot here. Indeed, Rocky and Adrian exchanged their first kiss in Los Angeles, in an apartment not yet located. In any case, it is indeed in this street that all the outside scenes related to the character’s apartment were filmed. If the façade has been renovated to be as similar as possible to the one seen in the film, the same cannot be said of Paulie and Adrian’s house.
Paulie and Adrian’s house
2822 Rosehill Street in Philadelphia
The rendezvous at the ice rink is also a memorable moment in the entire saga. Again, many will be disappointed to learn that the Ice Capades Chalet is located at 500 Broadway in Santa Monica, California, not “Philly”. If the building remains open to the public, it no longer has anything to do with the ice rink that the fans have grown fond of.
The Chalet closed its doors in 1985 before being transformed into a Fred Segal store. Visibly attached to the history of the site, the managers have kept the entrance and the ramp leading to the ice. Although renovated, the interior of the building is recognizable among a thousand.
The J&M Tropical Fish
The skating rink is not the only one to have closed its doors since the end of the saga. The J&M Tropical Fish where Adrian worked before meeting Rocky was a real pet shop still in operation until 2006, located at 2146 N. Front Street in Philadelphia.
However, the crisis has taken its toll on this small shop, like many other businesses in the neighbourhood. Long abandoned and barricaded, it was then destroyed. This sad epilogue unfortunately does not do justice to this so important place in the saga.
Beware, the neighborhood is known to be particularly dangerous. The locals are amused to say that even Rocky could have been mugged there.
That good old training room so dear to Rocky and his coach Mickey is still standing. While the red bricks make the façade instantly recognizable, the place has changed somewhat since 1975.
In the early 2000s, Mighty Mick’s boxing gym gave way to a Dollar Plus convenience store. No need to look, the panel hanging above the front door was removed a long time ago. And for good reason, the prop was only attached to it during the shooting period.
And once again, it was not in Philadelphia that the training scenes were filmed, but in the Main Street Gym in Los Angeles, now demolished.
The Italian Market where Rocky jogs (Italian Market)
Undoubtedly, the film changes dimension when Sylvester Stallone does his first training to fight Carl Weathers, interpreter of Apollo Creed. The challenger is taking its destiny into its own hands and intends to prove to the whole of America that it exists. Perhaps the most emotional moment is the “Italian Stallion’s” run through South Philadelphia, again sublimated by Gonna fly now.
This jog was in fact carried out illegally since the film crew had no authorization to film. During this race, Sylvester Stallone was still a second-class player. Thus, no fan shout came to disturb the authenticity of the scene. Also, the orange toss from a market gardener at the Italian Market.
The must-see venue of the saga is undoubtedly the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its 72 steps. Also called Rocky’s step, this building is mythical, mentioned as one of the most popular movie locations of all time.
Every year, millions of tourists come from all over the world to climb its steps one after the other and raise their arms, once at the top, in homage to Rocky. Many of them, like the eponymous character, are not even aware that the museum contains magnificent works of art.
But to evoke Rocky without evoking the legendary Spectrum Arena in Philadelphia would be meaningless. For the Spectrum was to Philadelphia what Madison Square Garden is to New York. Unfortunately, the famous arena at 3601 South Broad Street is no longer, demolished in 2011.
It was at this time that the bronze statue of Rocky was moved a few meters from the Philadelphia museum. Like most indoor scenes, the final fight for the title was shot in Los Angeles, more precisely in the center of L.A., at the Grand Olympic Auditorium. And like many places related to the saga, this auditorium was also destroyed.
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The café of Amélie, the mansion of Untouchables, the jazz club of the finale of La La Land, the Hôtel du Nord of the mythical replica of Arletty “Atmosphere”, the cinema of A bout de souffle, the restaurant of Ratatouille, the quays of the Seine of Midnight in Paris, the secret places of the Da Vinci Code, the grocery store of January in La Traversée de Paris , the Bridge of Inception and Peur sur la ville, the addresses of the spectacular scenes of Mission Impossible 6, but also series Call my agent, Gears, Le Bureau des légendes, Sense8, Sex and The City, Gossip Girl…
Etienne Daho’s Café de Flore, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hotel in Nas in Paris, Serge Gainsbourg’s Poinçonneur des Lilas metro station, Serge Reggiani and Marc Lavoine’s Mirabeau Bridge, Mc Solaar’s Lyon station…
The places evoked in the comics Adèle Blanc-Sec, Largo Winch, Blake and Mortimer, Michel Vaillant…
But also in the novels of Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Leo Malet, Daniel Pennac, Marc Levy, Guillaume Musso… you’ll find all the must-see places of Parisian Pop Culture in this new guide.
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By Gilles Rolland
Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.