Rocky and Adrian’s first date nearly took them to a much different location, but director John G. Avildsen felt that they should be doing something more active. “Adrian and Rocky went on their first date to a cafe and talked for seven or eight pages,” Avildsen told Philadelphia Magazine. “I thought that was deadly, and I said, let them go bowling or ice-skating.”
While it could have been interesting to go down that route, Avildsen had the right idea. Besides being more dynamic than a sit-down cafe scene, we learn that ice-skating is one of Adrian’s favorite things to do. Given how reserved she is, being in a familiar place with a stranger presents an opportunity to open up to Rocky. Avildsen may have decided to nix the cafe meeting, but that idea kind of lives on through Adrian’s, the restaurant Rocky operates in honor of his late wife around the time of “Rocky Balboa.” The latter half of the film, coupled with the sequels, shows two people who truly love one another. Looking back, however, the scene is not quite as romantic as I’d remembered.
An emotionally abusive Paulie (Burt Young) nixes the turkey she was making out the back door, leaving Rocky as her only means of escape. We’re well aware that the Italian Stallion possesses a good heart, but the scene plays a bit differently through a modern lens. I can’t help but see an introvert worn down by the whole idea until she eventually succumbs to his charm. I suppose that’s the point, and Adrian does come to love Rocky on her own terms, yet it’s easy to forget how persistent he comes across initially. It just goes to show how times change.
“Rocky” is currently streaming on Paramount+ and Netflix.