Movie Blog Post: CHUCK (The "Real Rocky" Chuck Wepner Story)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chuck Wepner in Philadelphia for Q&A after Screening of His Biopic


By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

When Chuck Wepner was introduced to the Philadelphia audience in attendance at PFS's Prince Theater for the preview screening of CHUCK, the first thing he said was that the only way he agreed to have his real story told was if there were no sugar coating; he wanted it all out there - warts and all. It just so happens that some guys can wear warts like badges of honor, because Chuck, played by "Ray Donovan" lead Liev Schreiber, is the kinda guy you root for, despite his many stupid choices, lost opportunities and general NJ lugheadedness.

See below video for excerpts from the Chuck Wepner Q&A also featuring producer Michel Tollin and Philadelphia Film Society Executive Director Andrew Greenblatt: Note: video will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed. Click HERE to view

Called the "Bayonne Bleeder" because he seemed to have absolutely no feeling in his face, able to take direct punch, after punch, after punch, and keep going despite the buckets of blood pouring from his swollen mug.  If there's one aspect that Schreiber captures perfectly about Wepner in director Philippe Falardeau's film, it's the energy the guy had of being able to be the loudest, most expansive braggart in any room, yet terrified that he'll be seen as some kind of a joke.

In 1975 Wepner is married to Phyllis played with true lower middle class charm by Elisabeth Moss (See Tinsel & Tine's Post on The Handmaid's Tale). At first, the two seem to have the perfect push and pull chemistry, where she understands who she married and he knows she's a saint for putting up with him, but that all changes shortly before his bout in the ring with Muhammad Ali.

Chuck Wepner and Muhammad Ali
Cadillac’s ‘Dare Greatly’campaign features Wepner.
I don't really understand all the ins and outs as to how a 2nd rate boxer got a chance at the title against Ali, but it happened, with Wepner as more of a parody great white hope than an actual contender. During the fight, Chuck only manages one good punch against Muhammad Ali, yet he miraculously lasted almost the whole duration of the match, right up until the last 19 seconds of Round 15.  This turned Chuck Wepner into a superstar. Although, I gotta admit, I had no idea who he was, but I was a young'un in '75; but from what I gather, it would be like the way you didn't have to follow boxing to know all about Mike Tyson in the 90's. In fact, it was all this Wepner fanfare which inspired Sylvester Stallone to personify Philly's own iconic Rocky Balboa the following year.

When Rocky won the 1977 Best Picture Oscar (up against Taxi Driver, Network, and All the President's Men) Wepner was thrilled and bragged to everyone in Bayonne as if it were him up there on the big screen, or at least got paid and given credit for his story, but to Stallone's discredit, none of that happened.  Sly has yet to pay Wepner a dime from all those Rocky millions!  Eventually, when they meet, Sly tries to get The Bayonne Bleeder a part in Rocky II, but Chuck totally blows the opportunity.

Leiv Screiber and Naomi Watts in Chuck movie before breakup

Chuck is still with his second wife, Linda who also attended the screening in Philly. Linda is played by an almost unrecognizable Naomi Watts, she's got one of those chameleon faces anyway, but I wouldn't have thought she could pull off sassy, Jersey born and bred bar wench, but she does. Too bad Watts and Schreiber ended their 11-year union, last September, which would have been shortly after CHUCK had it's world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Supposedly they remain on friendly terms for the sake of their two sons, Alexander, nine, and Samuel, seven.

Bottom Line: Does the world need another boxing movie? Well, Chuck is no Rocky or Millon Dollar Baby, but it's only right that Chuck Wepner finally has a movie he can call his own.

T & T's LAMB (movie bloggers association) Score: 3.5 outta 5

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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