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The Greatest Christmas Sports Movie of All-Time

DVD sales and rental revenue are projected to show a 14% drop in 2010 over 2009 due to the struggling economy, the closure of many Blockbuster stores, and the increased availability of cable TV pay per view flicks.  But, that won’t stop many Christmas shoppers from buying DVD’s this holiday season, although it may be the last Christmas that they do so.

Rocky IV was the highest grossing of all of the Rocky films and the fight took place on Christmas Day.

Rocky IV was the highest grossing of all of the Rocky films and the fight took place on Christmas Day.

So, we at Fantasy Baseball Dugout began thinking about: what is the greatest Christmas Sports movie of all-time?  There really aren’t that many under consideration.  A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) comes to mind, but Charlie isn’t playing a lot of baseball during the winter holiday season, although I do recall Lucy pulling out the football on him when he kicks off.  If you call chariot racing a sport, you may consider Ben-Hur (1959) as it does a nativity scene in it.

The greatest Christmas sports movie of all-time is Rocky IV (1985).  In Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) actually fights Captain Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) on Christmas Day in the Soviet Union.

Although not the most critically-acclaimed, Rocky IV was the most financially-successful of all of the Rocky films.  It brought in $127 million in North America and over $300 million worldwide.

In the film, Drago and his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), an Olympic swimming champion, come to America to challenge American boxers.  The film shows off the high tech training equipment of the 6′ 5″ 260 pound Russian.

When Drago meets his opponent Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in a charity boxing match, Creed enters the Las Vegas ring with a show that only Las Vegas could perform.  James Brown sings Living in America while the stoic Russian contingent awaits the champ.

After a strong beginning of the first round, the showboating Creed is battered with a barrage of punches and makes it to his corner.  He tells his corner to not stop the fight and not throw in the towel.  Rocky adheres to his friend’s wishes and does not throw in the towel, only to see Creed take a crushing blow that leaves him unconscious.  A terse Drago when interviewed says: “If he dies, he dies.”  And, Creed does die from the blow.

Rocky then challenges Drago to a match, but it will be under the Russian’s terms this time — in the Soviet Union and on Christmas Day.  Rocky begins a rugged training schedule in Krasnoyarsk in the Soviet Union.  These scenes were actually shot in and around a log cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with the backdrop of the Grand Teton mountains.

This is the only one of the Rocky movies where Rocky is not shown running up or at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, although there is one scene where Rocky runs up the mountain only to raise his arms in the same manner as he did at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Sports announcers Stu Nahan and Warner Wolfe announce the fight in Russia where Rocky ultimately wins in the 15th round.

For more of our movie reviews, check out BallparkBob’s Top 50 Baseball Movies of all-time and BallparkBob’s Top 100 Sports Movies of all-time.

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