Published on: August 23, 2007To hear Kevin Coupe’s weekly radio commentary, click on the “MNB Radio” icon on the left hand side of the home page, or just go to:
Or, to simply read the commentary in text form, continue below…
Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, brought to you by Webstop, your first stop for retail website design services.
As you listen to this, Mrs. Content Guy and I are north of Columbus, Ohio, helping our second son unpack his things for his first year of college at Ohio Wesleyan University. I’m participating in the process with mixed emotions; while he’s a terrific young man and I’m excited for him as he begins a whole new phase of his life, I’m going to miss him. A lot.
This summer, we’ve tried to find time for each other. Actually, to be honest, he’s been pretty indulgent with the old man, willing to spare a few hours here and there for me. One of the things we’ve done is to pick out some movies to watch at home together, movies we’ve talked about watching but never found the time for. Like “Saving Private Ryan,” which was poignant because we both visited Normandy this summer and saw where D-Day actually took place. And “Apocalypse Now,” which I’ve always felt is the best movie about the war that shaped my generation, Vietnam, and is one of my favorite films directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
But we also watched a movie this summer which wasn’t particularly great, but that I found I had an emotional attachment to – “Rocky Balboa,” which was last winter’s surprise hit, a final installment of the Rocky movies that started out so strong in the seventies and ended up being parodies of themselves. I really liked this new one, though – in part because it was about personal redemption, about being true to oneself and one’s nature. It also had a subplot about Rocky’s relationship with his son, which, though occasionally troubled, was ultimately secure because there was so much love between father and son. That kind of story will bring a tear to my eye anytime. What can I say? I’m a softie.
Watching “Rocky Balboa” gave me the chance to tell my son a story from my youth. Since this is my last radio commentary of the summer, I think I’ll take advantage of the moment and share it with you, too.
Back when I was a senior and a film major at Loyola Marymount University in late 1976, I was taking a film criticism class that met one night a week. We would regularly be shown a movie that had not yet been released, we could get a chance to listen to and ask questions of someone connected to the film, and then were required to write a series of essays about what we’d learned. I loved that class – it was everything I loved to do, and I actually got college credit for it.
One of the ongoing challenges was to find out what the film would be before showing up for class. The professors tried to keep it a secret, but inevitably word would leak out. One night, as we showed up for class, it would be fair to say that we weren’t thrilled about the possibilities. All we knew was that we were going to see a boxing movie starring some guy named Sylvester.
The movie, of course, was “Rocky.” And we were the first audience to see a finished print. We had no expectations, no preconceptions. And to say we were blown away would be an understatement.
I can even find a message in here for retailers: never underestimate the importance of surprise. I’m not sure how many retailers say to themselves, “Let’s find a way to surprise the customer today.” But I think it is always worth doing.
To this day, I cannot ever remember being in a movie theater and being part of an audience having such a visceral response to a motion picture. During the climactic fight scene against Apollo Creed, we were all on our feet, cheering and shouting. It might as well have been a real boxing match. When it was over, we all were crying and exhausted and completely enthralled by the experience – and then Sylvester Stallone walked in to take our questions, and the place erupted all over again. This was before he was Stallone the icon – he was a little shy, a little amazed and completely in the moment. Remember, he was a nobody who had written this script, and the studios had offered him megabucks for the script so they could cast Burt Reynolds, James Caan or Ryan O’Neal as Rocky. But Stallone said no, said he’d take almost no money for the script if they’d let him star in it, and the movie was made for under a million dollars on the back streets of Philadelphia.
College moments like that happen to a lot of people, though they don’t always have to do with Oscar-winning movies. That’s one of the pleasures of college – you get to discover things you’ve never experienced before, and enjoy so many “first time” thrills.
I hope my son has a lot of those. It’ll almost make up for the fact that I’m going to miss him so much.
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
- KC's View: