Okay, so the headline is a tad misleading. Though The Hollywood Reporter is ballyhooing producer Morris S. Levy’s prepping of a fully authorized Rocky Marciano biopic, it’s still possible that Spike Lee could get his Joe Louis film up and shooting before the Brockton Blockbuster project even has a director. But considering Spike’s penchant for developing and discarding, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Which is fitting, since no one ever lost money betting on Rocky Marciano, who remains the only heavyweight champ to retire undefeated (at 49-0 with 43 knockouts). While this won’t be the first treatment of Marciano’s life (there were two by-most-accounts awful telepics, the latest in 1999 starring Jon Favreau – who looks like a Batamweight nowadays), it is the first (potential) film to secure the blessings of the Marciano family, which typically means great access and a danger of whitewashing. That said, Marciano’s life wasn’t exactly riddled with scandal; to the best of my knowledge, he was a sort of working class hero who knew when to call it quits (unlike nearly every other boxer in the sport’s history). He did consider coming out of retirement to fight Ingemar Johansson in 1959, but thought better of it (thus maintaining his dignity and unblemished record).
The Hollywood Reporter story claims that the screenplay, written by relative unknown Terri Apple, will include "never-before-revealed details" about his relationship with his father and his wife – who were actually the same person!!! Or maybe not. I’m just trying to think of shit that might shake up the usual boxing movie narrative trajectory.
Apple’s first draft was completed prior to the writer’s strike, so I’m sure the project is out to any number of directors. Whether they’ll want to rush a first draft into production pre-DGA strike is another story. I just hope the script includes Marciano’s legendary whupping of a seventy-five-year-old Joe Louis.