Somebody Up There Likes Me is a superbly done, frank and revealing film probe of Rocky Graziano, the East Side punk who overcame a lawless beginning to win respect and position as middle-weight champion of the world.
Paul Newman’s talent is large and flexible, revealing an approach to the Graziano character that scores tremendously.
In the latter half, when Norma Unger, played with beautiful sensitivity by Pier Angeli, comes into his life, the audience is back on his side, pulling for him to shake off the past, and literally cheering him on in that potently staged championship match with Tony Zale. Credit for this stirring climax and its authenticity must be shared by technical adviser Johnny Indrisano and Courtland Shepard, who fights like a true-to-life Zale.
Numbered among the featured and supporting cast are Everett Sloane, great as the manager Irving Cohen; Eileen Heckart, exceptionally fine as Graziano’s mother; Harold J. Stone, almost uncomfortably real as the wine-sodden father; and Sal Mineo, excellent as the street chum who shared Graziano’s early ways.
1956: Best B&W Cinematography, B&W Art Direction
Nomination: Best Editing