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)


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