Somebody Up There Likes Me is a 1956 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 was also notable for being one of Paul Newman's first starring roles and for being the first film in which Steve McQueen appeared. This is actually not the first feature McQueen starred in, the first was Girl On The Run. It also marked the film debuts of Frank Campanella, Robert Loggia and Dean Jones, all in bit parts and uncredited. James Dean was first cast for the role of Rocky, before his death in 1955 in an automobile accident. The unknown Newman was chosen as a last-minute replacement.
Rocky Barbella 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 hard labor camp, 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, losing only by forfeit and a title fight with Tony Zale. A person he knew in prison finds him and blackmails him into throwing a fight or he will release to the press his criminal history. Not wanting to throw the fight and not wanting to go against the blackmailer, 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 the middleweight champion, whom he had lost to in a previous fight. Rocky wins the fight.