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Craig T. Nelson,
Football jock Rocky Bleier (Urich) makes it all the way to the pros with the Pittsburgh Steelers, only to be drafted in the Vietnam war. Wounded by a hand grenade overseas, Bleier returns to the States told he will never walk again. However, after a lengthy, grueling rehabilitation (and several slow motion sequences to thumping soundtrack music) Bleier ultimately walks again. Soon, he trains with his old team for inspiration. Boss Art Rooney (Art Carney)'s sympathy and regard for Bleier pays off when Bleier improbably comes all the way back, ultimately playing for a Superbowl Championship with the Steelers. But are all the good feelings and inspiration Bleier engenders enough to carry him to an NFL championship? Written by
After the Steelers win their first playoff game in December 1972 with the famous "Immaculate Reception", Rocky as narrator says, "We figured it was our year for the Super Bowl, so we went tearing into Miami for the League Championship Game." In 1972, the NFL awarded home field for the playoffs on a rotating basis, so despite Miami having the better regular-season record, the AFC Championship Game that year was hosted by Pittsburgh. See more »
Fighting Back, The Rocky Bleier Story is a very well made TV movie from the early 80's. The story of Rocky Bleier is a story of courage and perseverance, and this movie is rather poignant despite its, "Movie of the week," trappings.
As Rocky himself (played very well by the late Robert Urich) points out in the movie, it wasn't just courage, but fear that motivated him to overcome the near loss of his foot in Viet Nam to become one of the NFL's star players. While there is a bit too much melodrama covering Rocky's personal life, the scenes covering Rocky's fight to come back from what should have been a career ending, and crippling, injury are truly inspiring.
The music, the direction, the acting - it's all spot on. Fighting Back truly captures the spirit of the times. Heck, Howard Cosell's appearance is perfect as well - he was such a cultural icon in the 70's and 80's, and his cameo really taps into that. Special mention should also be made of Art Carney's performance as Art Rooney. He did a great job portraying a much loved team owner. Richard Herd was also fairly good in his scenes as Chuck Noll.
You don't have to be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan to enjoy Fighting Back. (As a matter of fact, I can't stand the Steelers - but I LOVE this movie! All of a sudden I found myself rooting for them to make it to the Super Bowl while watching it - even though I knew the outcome of almost all the games shown!) Even fans of other teams will find themselves becoming big Rocky Bleier fans while watching this movie.
As a side note - watch out for a severely edited version of Fighting Back that occasionally gets shown on ESPN Classic. That version isn't even worth showing.
Hopefully the full length version shows up on DVD before too long. I'm sure it would sell fairly well - especially in Pittsburgh!
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