Rocky roads

BELIEVE it or not, there are some news items more upsetting to me than the latest quotations from Ronald Reagan. One such item was the announcement of a movie called ``Rocky IV.'' Even presidents only get two terms. One of the great imponderables of my sterling cinema judgment is that movies that I think are real dogs, and should haunt the memory of Thomas Edison forever, always turn out to make $100 million. Probably this should tell me something. But so far it isn't enough to make me question my own judgment; it's simply annoying that the taste of millions has become suspect.

When I first heard about ``Rocky IV'' on television, I thought it was the beginning of a comedy hour. Then I realized the commentator was serious. The idea that another heavy-lidded ``Rocky'' would once more stagger to center ring with puffy lips, glistening all over with a sweaty shine, no doubt made possible with the application of a gallon of salad oil, sent me back to Channel 16 and a rerun of Errol Flynn.

In a battered world where it seems every 10th person gets hijacked, maybe a ``Rocky IV'' is what we need. It is like a Tom and Jerry cartoon where the good guy is sure to win. To find out why millions are dancing on their toes in anticipation of stuffing more money into the pockets of Sylvester Stallone, I've even thought of getting a computer. Or maybe the computer would suggest that people just go see ``Rocky I'' four times.

``Rocky I'' was about an unknown heavyweight contender. ``Rocky II'' was his life as champ and his narrow victory over Apollo Creed, the champ of the previous picture. A guy with a name like Apollo Creed was sure to lose anyway. ``Rocky III'' is about Rocky fighting his way back from retirement, beating a dude named Clubber Lang (sounds like a champion bridge player).

Now we have ``Rocky IV,'' in which Rocky, like Ronald Reagan, is up against a new, young Russian type in a battle for the world championship.

Surely, there can be only one more after this: ``Rocky V.'' That would be where Rocky Balboa becomes president, by reason of a knockout in the last hours of the campaign.

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