Somebody Up There Likes Me, screenplay by Ernest Lehman based on the autobiography of Rocky Graziano
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Somebody Up There really Liked Rocky Graziano…and Paul Newman for that matter.
At least in the adult part of Graziano’s life, after some critical events and even then, from some points of view only he was lucky.
The childhood of the famous boxing champion was As Bad As It Gets, for his father was abusive and kicked him around.
At a later stage, there are some explanations for the terrible behavior of the father, who could not be a boxer, as supposedly had been his calling.
Rocky Graziano’s mother blames herself for asking her husband to give up boxing, which he did and became a failure.
He keeps drinking and pushes his son around, hurting him because of some wrong, heinous reasons like:
- I don’t like whining and hits the poor boy
Very soon, Rocky gets involved in fights, which could be seen as a good training for his future career, but he also breaks the law.
He has stolen some money with his associates and the policemen get him and ask him to explain the sum.
- I got it from my father
Only when asked, this hard man, who would be charged with more than harassment and child abuse in the world of today denies having given anything to the boy.
Throughout his life, rocky will have a series of problems with the authorities and rules and regulations.
Somebody Up There Liked him early on, when he got mad while doing forced labor and was on the point of killing a guard.
Once out, he is taken by what looked like force to enroll in the army, where he gets into more trouble.
He uses his powerful hands to send into the dust a superior who dared wake him up and then he faces a captain.
So there is another powerful knock and a K.O., only not under the proper circumstances in an organized game.
He is dishonorably discharged and this humiliation would follow him and there would be Goodfellas who would try to blackmail him on the subject.
While a fugitive from the army, Rocky has to find a way to make some money, thinking he could pay his way out of trouble.
As he happens- another Like from the Man Upstairs- to be in a boxing club, a trainer is in need of a sparring partner.
Rocky is quick to volunteer and he not only does honorably for a novice, but he sends the opponent to the floor.
For the next games, he keeps refusing to train, even if he seems to use almost exclusively one hand and asks for other guys to “flatten out”.
His physical form is evidently astonishing but I was almost equally flabbergasted by how uneducated, rough, simple to the point of repeating over and over just a few phrases his vocabulary was…
- Don’t worry about a thing!
This is what he keeps saying to everyone, mother, wife, manager and those he meets by chance or friends.
He gets into trouble yet again, when a former friend and convicted and permanent criminal wants him to cheat on a game.
Rocky would have none of that, proud of his prowess and success, but he does not want to inform the authorities.
Instead of doing what the crook asked and facing the wrath of the blackmailer who would print the stories about his criminal past, he pretends he has an injury.
The story based on the real life of what of the most appreciated champions of the last century is a wonderful lesson.
Courage, grit, determination, resilience, redemption are just some of the elements of a success tale, even if boxing is not the recommended way to get to the top.
It is well known now that not just boxing, but other rough sports like American Football have a very severe, traumatic effect on the brain.