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The abuse Rocky Barbella endures at the hand of his father and subsequent run-ins with the law lead him in and out of detention centers and prisons. When it seems he has it together, Rocky is drafted but, refusing to adhere to Army rules, goes AWOL. He takes up boxing to earn quick money, but when he discovers he has a natural talent in the ring, he builds the confidence to pursue his love interest, Norma, and fulfill his potential as a fighter. Written by
This was excellent! I think it is one of the most underrated and under-discussed movies of the 1950s. It was interesting from start-to-finish and had drama, humor, suspense, action, romance.....and it's all true. The story was approved by the man it was about: boxer Rocky Graziano. Thus, you know it's not "based on a true story" in which 90 percent of it turns out to be fiction, just for dramatic purposes. No, this was Graziano's story and Paul Newman - despite not looking Italian - did a superb job playing him. This movie put Newman "on the map" as an actor. He was fascinating in here and dominated most of the scenes.
The film's direction by Robert Wise and the cinematography also took center stage. Apparently, the "powers that be" agreed as this film won an Oscar for its photography.
Newfane's portrayal of the juvenile delinquent-turned-championship boxer may have dominated the story but all the characters left strong impressions, beginning with this parents played by the great character actors Harold Stone and Eileen Heckart . Pier Angeli is well- cast as Graziano's sweetheart-turned wife. Her Italian accent fits in perfectly as does her character as the soft and frail--but tough female complement to Rocky. Too bad we didn't see much of this actress in the USA.
The rest of the supporting cast is top-notch, from Everett Sloane as the fight manager to '50s star/teen idol Sal Mineo as a neighborhood pal to Graziano. Also good was Robert Loggia as the bad- influence hood. This was Loggia's first role on screen. Speaking of first roles, did anyone catch Steve McQueen in here?? I did a double-take when they had a quick gang-fight rumble on top of a roof and there's McQueen! The camera put a closeup shot on him and there was no doubt it was him! He had no lines, unfortunately, but that apparently was his film debut.
This movie is finally going to be released on DVD sometime in November of 2006. I hope more people get the opportunity to discover this fantastic movie which, by the way, reminded me quite a bit of another fantastic film in this era: On The Waterfront.
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