Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956 film)

Somebody Up There Likes Me is a 1956 American drama film based on the life of middleweight boxing legend Rocky Graziano.[3][4] 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 Brown, Edwin B. Willis, F. Keogh Gleason).[5] It was directed by Robert Wise.

Somebody Up There Likes Me
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Wise
Produced byCharles Schnee
Written byErnest Lehman
Based onSomebody Up There Likes Me
1955 novel
by Rocky Graziano with Rowland Barber
StarringPaul Newman
Pier Angeli
Everett Sloane
Music byBronislau Kaper
CinematographyJoseph Ruttenberg
Edited byAlbert Akst
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 3, 1956 (1956-07-03)
Running time
114 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,360,000[1][2]


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 dishonorably 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 (Court Shepard). A person he knew in prison finds him and blackmails him into throwing a fight over his dishonorable discharge. 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.

Main cast


The role of Rocky Graziano was originally to be played by James Dean, but he died before filming began, and Paul Newman was asked to take the part.[6] Australian actor Rod Taylor was also considered for the part; although unsuccessful, his screen test impressed MGM enough for them to offer him a long term contract.[7]

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.


Perry Como's version of the song, "Somebody Up There Likes Me," is played over the opening and closing credits.[8]

Box office

According to MGM records, the film earned $1,915,000 in the US and Canada and $1,445,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $609,000.[1]


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Domestic take - see 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  3. Variety film review; July 4, 1956, page 6.
  4. Harrison's Reports film review; July 7, 1956, page 106.
  5. "NY Times: Somebody Up There Likes Me". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  6. Wise, Robert, (2006). - Somebody Up There Likes Me Commentary. - Turner Entertainment.
  7. Stephen Vagg, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010 p 51
  9. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  10. "AFI's Top 10 Sports Nominees". Retrieved 2016-08-14.
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