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From Bum to Italian Stallion: Sylvester Stallone as Rocky

21 April 2014 10:15 PM, PDT

In the very opening scene of Rocky (1976, costume designer Robert Cambel), we see the title character in the ring, bare chested, hands encased in boxing gloves, the picture of sporting violence and masculinity. But this is no more than a surface assumption. Not two minutes later, we see Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) shrug on his faded brown towelling dressing gown, with “The Italian Stallion” embroidered on the back, and things start to shift. This is not a macho film concerned with the fight alone, but an exploration of masculinity in all its guises – the assumptions, the pretence and the reality. Clothes play an important part in this, both as items we believe the characters select for themselves on a daily basis, and as literal costumes chosen for performance in the ‘show’ of the boxing ring.

The aforementioned dressing gown is perfect in that it’s reminiscent of the flashy boxing stereotype, »

- Lord Christopher Laverty

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