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Rocky Graziano is building a career in crime, when he's finally caught and arrested. In jail, he is undisciplined, always getting into trouble. When he gets out after many years he has decided to start a new life. However, he is immediately drafted to the army. But they can't keep him and he goes AWOL. Rocky discovers boxing as a way of earning quick money, and is discovered as a new talent. Written by
Up until now I've only seen Paul Newman in 1990's and later movies - but he's never been the actor that called me into a movie theater or made me change the channel. He always seemed to play the same type of part: easy going, calm, aware, well contained. Or maybe that's the way he made each part seem.
After seeing this movie, now I know why he's considered such a great actor. I only watched boxing when it was part of the Olympics - just don't enjoy the sport itself that much - and only know about Rocky Graziano from the newspapers. But Paul Newman was riveting. He made this character of a complete underdog, who apparently had no hope, no charm, and nothing to live for, into someone I cared about enough to stick with the movie for two hours.
I don't know how true-to-life the story was; Hollywood generally creates composite characters, cleans up reality and changes or outright ignores major events. Certainly the many fights Graziano had were a bit of a blur in the film and I'm sure several critical steps in his advancement towards middleweight championship were neglected. The reason for the violent relationship between Rocky and his father was unexplained. And his mother's mental state (the film alludes to her time in the hospital) is not fully developed.
These gaps do not overshadow in any way Paul Newman's performance. I always thought it was longevity, charitable works, and a long-lasting marriage to another actor (not to mention darn good spaghetti sauce) that gave him the aura he has - now I understand.
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