July 5, 1956 in US cinemas: Someone Up There Likes Me

“A Girl Can Lift A Fellow To The Skies!”

Somebody Up There Likes Me is an American drama film based on the life of middleweight boxing legend Rocky Graziano. Joseph Ruttenberg was awarded a 1956 Oscar in the category of Best Cinematography (Black and White). The film also won the Oscar for Best Art Direction (Cedric Gibbons, Malcolm F. Brown, Edwin B. Willis, F. Keogh Gleason). It was directed by Robert Wise.

Rocky Graziano (Paul Newman) has a difficult childhood and is beaten by his father. He joins a street gang, and undergoes a long history of criminal activities. He is sent to prison, where he is rebellious to all authority figures. After his release, he is drafted by the U.S. Army, but runs away. Needing money, he becomes a boxer, and finds that he has natural talent and wins six fights in a row before the Army finds him and dishonourably discharges him. He serves a year in a United States Disciplinary Barracks, and resumes his career as a boxer as a result.

While working his way to the title, he is introduced to his sister’s friend Norma, whom he falls in love with and later marries. Starting a new, clean life, he rises to the top, but loses a title fight with Tony Zale. A person he knew in prison finds him and blackmails him into throwing a fight. Rocky fakes an injury and avoids the fight altogether. When he is interrogated by the district attorney, he refuses to name the blackmailer and has his license suspended. His manager gets him a fight in Chicago to fight Zale the middleweight champion, once more. Rocky wins the fight.

The role of Rocky Graziano was originally to be played by James Dean, but he died before filming began, and Newman was asked to take the part.  The film was also notable for being one of Paul Newman’s first starring roles and for being one of the first films in which Steve McQueen appeared. It also marked the film debuts of Frank Campanella, Robert Loggia, Angela Cartwright, and Dean Jones, all in uncredited bit parts.

Read more at Wikipedia.

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