The Films of John G. Avildsen

Rocky, The Karate Kid and Other Underdogs


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About the Book

The life and work of American director John G. Avildsen is thoroughly examined in this detailed filmography and critical study. Each of the most significant films made by the Oscar-winning Avildsen is given a separate chapter, including such critical successes as Joe and Save the Tiger, and box-office blockbusters Rocky and its sequels and the Karate Kid series. The authors’ observations on these and other titles—some well known, others less familiar—are enhanced by extensive production notes, and by commentary from John G. Avildsen himself. Cinema historian Jean Bodon of Sam Houston State University provides a foreword.

About the Author(s)

Larry Powell is a professor of communication studies at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He is the author or co-author of several books and articles.

Tom Garrett is an associate professor at Sam Houston State University, and a producer of independent feature films and documentaries.

Bibliographic Details

Larry Powell and Tom Garrett

Foreword by Jean Bodon

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 36 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6692-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9047-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jean Bodon  1
Preface  5
1. The Early Career 7
2. Joe: Speed Freaks versus the Silent Majority 16
3. Cry Uncle: Returning (Already) to His Roots 26
4. The Stoolie: At Odds with the Star 33
5. Save the Tiger: Knocking on the Door of the Academy Awards 44
6. Fore Play: Sex Comedies That Didn’t Work 53
7. W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings: John Avildsen vs. Burt Reynolds 58
8. Rocky: A Work of Inspiration 66
9. Saturday Night Fever: Missing Out on a Blockbuster 89
10. Slow Dancing in the Big City: A Former Sexploitation Director Tackles Romance 100
11. The Formula: Avildsen and Marlon Brando 107
12. Neighbors: The Difficult Becomes the Impossible 116
13. A Night in Heaven 124
14. The Karate Kid 131
15. The Karate Kid Part II: Let the Sequels Begin 143
16. Happy New Year 151
17. For Keeps 161
18. Lean on Me: Good Guys Don’t Always Win 168
19. The Karate Kid Part III 179
20. Rocky V: The End of the Line? 186
21. The Power of One 195
22. 8 Seconds 202
23. Inferno (Desert Heat) 213
Epilogue  219
Filmography  221
Notes  223
Bibliography  233
Index  239

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Fascinating, informative look at one of American cinema’s most interesting directors. Recommended”—Examiner