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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 is the movie that made Paul Newman a star. And with good reason. Although James Dean was signed to play the great Rocky Graziano, his death in a car crash made the role available for Paul Newman to step into. Newman who up to this point had made only a handful of forgettable pictures,turns in a marvelous portrayal of a man who is so filled with rage that everything he touches turns into trouble.
Newman's performance is layered with anger, humor, and fear. Rocky Graziano was by means the brightest guy in the world, and Newman to his credit does not try to make this an endearing quality of Rocky's.
The story does a nice job of not glossing over Rocky's troublesome youth. It shows a lot of the trouble and bad decision's that he made that led to being thrown out of schools, reformatories, and later into prison. This is not a sanitized bio-style film that you would have seen in the thirties or forties.
The rest of the acting is also first rate. Especially from Eileen Heckart and Everett Sloane as his mother and trainer, respectively. Lots of actors making their film debuts in this movie also. Look for Robert Loggia, Steve McQueen, George C. Scott and Dean Jones.
Robert Wise has done a wonderful job of bringing NYC to life in this picture. Watching Newman walk down the street with all of the people jeering him at first, and then rooting for him as he starts to gain some fame is the work of a top notch director. Wise would later exploit the scenery of New York to better use a few years later in "West Side Story". He also did an excellent job with the fight sequences.
It's easy to see where Sylvester Stallone got his inspiration for his "Rocky". In fact, you might say that he not only borrowed the development of his character, but that of Adrian, as well.
"Somebody Up There Likes Me" is well worth a look.
9 out of 10
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