'I coulda been a contender, Charlie': Brando's classic lament in On the Waterfront finds a new and vigorous echo in this low-budget film whose huge success, against all odds, mirrors its own theme. Rocky is an old-fashioned fairytale brilliantly revamped to chime in with the depressed mood of the '70s. Although its plot - nonentity gets to fight the heavyweight champ - is basically fantasy, the film deftly manages to suspend disbelief by drawing back at its more implausible moments. Despite a few clumsy early scenes, the dialogue hits some bull's-eyes ('I'm really a ham-and-egger' mumbles Stallone in disbelief when he hears he'll get a crack at the champ), and Burgess Meredith gives his best performance in years as a slobbering, aged trainer. But without its climax, Rocky would add up to very little: the big fight is cathartic, manipulative Hollywood at its best. In a word: emotion.