Monday, 8 September 2014

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)

Somebody Up There Likes Me was based on the life of boxer Rocky Graziano, and was a role which had originally been intended for James Dean. However following Dean's death the role was given to relative newcomer Paul Newman. Directed by Robert Wise (of West Side Story and The Sound of Music fame) the film cemented Newman as an up and coming star.

Rocky is a poor young man who is constantly in trouble with the law, in and out of numerous prisons, and after being dishonourably discharged from the army he finds success as a boxer. His success gives him a new purpose in life as well as providing a wife and children. But Rocky is still burdened by his past and has to confront it in order to move on.


Paul Newman's emotion and intensity create a memorable performance, Rocky's beginnings as a poor angry young man, and his final victory as a family man who has finally found his place in the world are handled realistically and sensitively. Pier Angeli is lovely as Rocky's wife, gentle but determined, the film also features Sal Mineo and a uncredited appearance of a young Steve McQueen.
The film has a gritty edge similar to Wise's later West Side Story, but is ultimately an uplifting tale which praises perseverance and belief in yourself and in those around you.

Fans of Paul should definitely see this film, as it paved the way for many of his later roles, complex, rebellious characters who have been treated badly in life and are looking for a way out. Sports fans will also enjoy it, and may be reminded of the famous Rocky films.

                                                                   (Paul with the real Rocky)


The Fugitive Kind (1960)

Sidney Lumet's The Fugitive Kind brought three Oscar winners together, Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. Based on a Tennessee Williams play, the film followed the story of a guitar playing drifter (Brando) and his involvement with with his older employer who is suffering in an unhappy marriage.

Like many of Williams plays it is filled with powerful, complex characters whose outcomes are tragic. Brando plays a typical silent, strong rebel, and Woodward is fascinating as an alcoholic party girl, she makes the audience feel compassion for her character despite her characters lack of development. There is the sense that perhaps her character is the most complex. Magnani however is the star of the film, her raw emotion and sensitivity make her characters final scenes heartbreaking. Victor Jory is well cast as the villain, Magnani's dying husband.

For the most part the film is slow moving, but there is always tension sizzling under the surface (like many of Williams plays/films)  but the characters intensity, and the desire to know more about them keeps the viewer interested.


And as I love Paul and Joanne, here is a picture of Paul visiting Joanne on the set of this film!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Quick Flicks

Just a few films I have watched lately, but haven't had the time to write full reviews of!

Indiscreet (1958): Starring Cary Grant & Ingrid Bergman. A well cast, amusing romantic comedy, with both Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant their usual charming selves! However I did not feel the storyline was as strong as the team behind it, not Grant or Bergman's best work, but enjoyable to watch nonetheless. 3.5/5

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953): Starring Rita Hayworth, Jose Ferrer & Aldo Ray. I felt amongst the colour and the noise this film fell short of being a great film. The acting was good, but it never quite made the mark it was aiming for. 3/5

Never So Few (1959): Starring Frank Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida & Steve McQueen. This is a good solid war film, Sinatra is very good as a rebellious army captain in India during the Second World War. Sometimes his scenes with Lollobrigida drag on. But it is worth taking a look to see McQueen's first major film role (since The Blob), that led to his classic roles in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. 3.5/5

South Pacific (1958): Starring Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr & Rossano Brazzi. I love a good musical, and this Rogers & Hammerstein classic certainly was a good one! Wonderful songs, scenery and characters make this a memorable film that will make you laugh but also tug at your heart strings. 4/5