When I was a kid I used to love movie tie-in books (I still do). Until I was fifteen, home video didn’t exist, and films took at least six years to appear of commercial television. So if you really liked a movie, and wanted to relive it, after it had left the cinemas (or in my case, ‘drive-in’), you had to buy the tie-in novel. Tie-in novels are a mixed bag. I have read some great ones – I loved Norman Winski’s The Sword and the Sorcerer, Vonda N McIntyre’s Star Trek II, II, IV, and Campbell Black’s Raiders of the Lost Ark novelisations. And I have read some clunky ones too. Rocky, is one of the clunky ones.
I don’t know if Julia Sorel is a pen name for Stallone, as the copyright for the book is attributed to Stallone rather than Sorel. But whoever wrote it, it is a choppy read, with some pretentious descriptions of the breaking day. But one thing I have always enjoyed about many tie-in novels, is there is chance that you may get more than the movie. Many of these novels are written on earlier versions of the script and before editing, so the book gives you a sneak-peak into the original vision of the writer.
Rocky at its best, is like that. There are a few scenes that didn’t make it into the film, such as a confrontation with ‘Dipper’ (the fighter who got Rocky’s locker) during a press conference with Creed. The language is also a little stronger in the book, than the movie. There is also one joke that was excised from Rocky, but would be recycled for Rocky II. These little nuggets, are the joy that comes from reading a book like this. If you’re a boxing fan, you wouldn’t read it for the fight description. Even if you a Rocky movie fan, you’re not going to find a lot of meat here (beyond the frozen kind, Rocky pounds on).
If you’re a Rocky fan, in this digital age, you’re better off watching the film one more time than delving into this curious bit of ephemera.
May sees the launch of King of the Outback, the sixth book in the popular Fightcard series – and my literary debut (writing as Jack Tunney). Accordingly, in a month long celebration, Permission to Kill will be looking back and some of the highlights – and lowlights – of boxing in film and literature – and in music too.