One of the joys of Rocky Balboa (2006) was seeing a credit card for Tony Burton... Burton’s megawatt smile hasn’t dimmed and he gets to deliver a powerhouse speech that sets the big training montage in motion.    " /> One of the joys of Rocky Balboa (2006) was seeing a credit card for Tony Burton... Burton’s megawatt smile hasn’t dimmed and he gets to deliver a powerhouse speech that sets the big training montage in motion.    " /> One of the joys of Rocky Balboa (2006) was seeing a credit card for Tony Burton... Burton’s megawatt smile hasn’t dimmed and he gets to deliver a powerhouse speech that sets the big training montage in motion.    " />

And Tony Burton as…

With Tony Burton

One of the unexpected joys of Rocky Balboa (2006) was seeing a credit card for Tony Burton.  As Duke, Burton has been in Rocky’s corner since 1976 and took over the training after they killed off Burgess Meredith in Rocky III (1983).  A Golden Gloves light heavyweight in his native Michigan, Burton knew a thing or two about the fight game.   

In Bingo LongIt was as a boxer that Burton made his film debut, underused as Sonny Spyder Brown in The Black Godfather (1974).  The actor bounced from one TV show to another before the magical year of 1976.  Lost in the lineup of Rocky’s ensemble of mugs, Burton had more visibility in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.  This picaresque tale from the days of the Negro baseball leagues benefits from vivid performances by Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor and Burton, as an amiable center fielder.  That year Burton also had small roles in Trackdown with Jim Mitchum and The River Niger with James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson and Lou Gossett.   

Assault on Precinct 13Ask a Tony Burton fan what his best movie is and 9 out of 10 your answer will be John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13.  As with Rocky, this reimagining of Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959) as an inner city siege was an unexpected sleeper.  Fifth billed as a luckless con who finds himself in the middle of the eponymous shoot-out, Burton walks a fine line between machismo and buffoonery and is greatly missed when his character is taken out by a sniper’s bullet.   

Burton has kept busy over the past three decades, with small roles in big pictures (The Shining in 1980) and bigger roles in independent films (teaching exorcism as adult ed in 2003’s Exorcism) but rarely getting to really work out.  That’s what made his turn in Rocky Balboa such a gift.  Pushing 70, Burton’s megawatt smile hasn’t dimmed a bit and he gets to deliver a powerhouse speech that sets the big training montage (and Bill Conti’s invigorating theme) in motion.   

Rocky Balboa

It was so great seeing Tony Burton back in the fight.

2 Responses And Tony Burton as…
Posted By Mark Tinta : April 11, 2007 8:44 pm

Couldn't agree more.  Duke kicking off the training montage was my favorite moment in the movie.  My only issue with ROCKY BALBOA is that it seems too choppy–whole scenes seem to be missing.  Don't get me wrong–it's a perfectly enjoyable film, but Duke literally appears out of nowhere, barking at Rocky about building "hurtin' bombs" and hitting Mason "The Line" Dixon so hard that he'll "rattle his ancestors."  It was a great moment that gave Tony Burton some well-earned time in the spotlight, but it's too bad we didn't get to see Rocky and Duke meeting up again after all those years.  They really missed out on some good old fashioned sentimentalism–they could've caught up, busted each others' balls, reminisced about Apollo and Mickey, etc.  And I'm sure Stallone and Burton would've been wonderful in such a scene. (I only saw this in theaters–I don't know what's on the DVD in the way of deleted scenes)

Posted By Mark Tinta : April 11, 2007 8:44 pm

Couldn't agree more.  Duke kicking off the training montage was my favorite moment in the movie.  My only issue with ROCKY BALBOA is that it seems too choppy–whole scenes seem to be missing.  Don't get me wrong–it's a perfectly enjoyable film, but Duke literally appears out of nowhere, barking at Rocky about building "hurtin' bombs" and hitting Mason "The Line" Dixon so hard that he'll "rattle his ancestors."  It was a great moment that gave Tony Burton some well-earned time in the spotlight, but it's too bad we didn't get to see Rocky and Duke meeting up again after all those years.  They really missed out on some good old fashioned sentimentalism–they could've caught up, busted each others' balls, reminisced about Apollo and Mickey, etc.  And I'm sure Stallone and Burton would've been wonderful in such a scene. (I only saw this in theaters–I don't know what's on the DVD in the way of deleted scenes)

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