Sunday, 4 April 2010

'You know, I've been lucky. Somebody up there likes me.'

Somebody Up There Likes Me
Dir. Robert Wise
(MGM, 1956)

A forthright biopic of the famed boxer Rocky Graziano. This is Rocky twenty years preceding Sly's efforts, indeed there are many comparisons or rather similarities to make between the two films. Wise's film is well written, the dialogue has a wonderful dry humour. All the characters feel real, yes it's nearer burlesque than seasoned Thespians, but surely that is what populates the Bronx and boxing gyms. Some critics have argued that Newman gives a mannered performance, a character with little depth; Newman does scratch is head a lot, loiter and spit, but he is simply brilliant. A scene that epitomises his performance; when drafted into the Army, Newman punches a high ranking officer in a showdown meeting in his office, Newman has this renegade energy that is captivating. Newman may rely on physical mannerisms, but this is exactly what defines Rocky Graziano's character, his performance feels incredibly honest. Of course we have the fairytale ending, it's clich├ęd, but satisfying. Forget Stallone, see Newman lean and raw in this triumphant endearing boxing fairytale.

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