Director Robert Wise, Film Somebody Up There Likes Me - Movie Review Essay

Published: 2022-05-13
Director Robert Wise, Film Somebody Up There Likes Me - Movie Review Essay
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Movie
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2033 words
17 min read

Director Robert Wise was an American director, executive producer and editor. His films have has a wide audience. In this paper we will look at the work history of Robert Wise as a director, his styles in movie directing, the most common subject matter that he addressed as a director and the importance of these to the national cinema. The paper will also conduct an in-depth analysis of his film Somebody Up There Likes Me and link how the movie became emblematic of is work.

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Robert Wise was born in 1994. He began his illustrious career at RKO as a sound and music editor. He is one of the most celebrated directors having won twice the Oscars Award. He also won the Academy award. He also served as the president Directors Guild of America. He passed on in 2005. Among the many films he has directed include the award winning film Citizen Kane for the best film editing. Other popular films directed and produced by Robert Wise include Star Trek, The Motion Picture, The Haunting among others.

Work History

Robert Wise grew up wanting to be journalist by profession. In the process of looking for a job, he found one at RKO as a sound and music editor working for Orson Welles and directing for Val Lewton ( Garry, 39). This is where he long span of career began. At RKO, he was hired by Val Lewton as a manual laborer (Gehring, 3). He however grew on to become a sound and music editor before later expanding his career to become a director. When he ventured in directing of movies, he began by directing horror films and he felt that was his area of interest. He directed horror movies like The Body Snatcher. His works in the horror films were however not celebrated (Gehring, 6).

He later ventured in satirical comedy alongside Benchley where he became more innovative and his works were noticed (Gehring, 8). Through hard work, Robert Wise became known in the industry. He came to work hard until 1950s at RKO (Gehring, 31) . He directed over twenty of his forty films during this period.


In his career, Robert Wise applied a number of styles while directing his films. He had a great combination of techniques that brought a sharp focus both on the fore ground and the background of the film. His versatility in the use of different styles made his films to appeal across different spheres. Robert Wise changed his styles and techniques to venture in different films as a response to the requirement of the film.

For instance, he used psychological horror technique in his film, The Haunting. He brings scenes that are that combine both horror and psychological fiction that provokes the mind with an intent to disturb and create fear. Additionally, he became familiar with the use of making a film using the optical printer techniques. This was evident when he was directing the film Citizen Kane. The other form of style that was also common in his films was the conventional auteurists expectations. The films directed by Robert wise were slow and the cameras too, though mobile, didi not move either physically or even through zooms like in The Haunting. ( Busch,4).Robert Wise employed these styles if naturalistic or expressionist refrained from using a particular style. The political or moral aspects of the film were expressed physically not just through pacing.

Common Subject Matter in Robert Wise Films

Robert Wise directed over forty movies. His films covered a number of subject areas. In his Film, Born To Kill, he focuses on the theme of murder. He uses the character of Sam Wild as as the main character whose aim in life is to fix so as to spit on everybody ( Keenan,35). The theme of murder comes out for instance when Laura goes for a date with Danny of course to make the Wilde jealous. When Danny goes to the kitchen, he finds the lug that Laura is dating over there and kills him.

In the film The Haunting, a story of a 90 year old house is narrated. The house was constructed by Hung Crain for his wife. The wife dies leaving the house empty. Crain decided that his second wife should have lived in the house thereafter. The second wife again died in the house by a fall in from the upstairs. After the second wife, the daughter then inherited the house. The daughter also passed on while calling for the help of a nurse companion. The companion came along and after the daughter; the companion remained in the house. She too hanged herself from a staircase within the house. The house was eventually inherited by Hill Anderson although it remained empty for some time. This shows Robert Wise obsession with the subject matter of death.

Contribution to the National Cinema

The works of Robert Wise have been a major contributor to the development of the national cinema. The techniques that he used were a transformation to the national film industry. He modified the use of some of the techniques and made them even better.

The technique of optical printer, which he used in the Cinema Kane film, was a breakthrough in the industry. Through the use of these techniques the new way of developing motion pictures was born. Two or more film projectors are linked to produce the best of the pictures. Furthermore, the use of still pictures is also another techniques that Robert Wise had perfected that has assisted the national cinema members develop better films.

The ability to make an audience come out with value is something that director Robert Wise also perfected. The reason the film The Sound of Music remained so popular was the fact that it left a sense of joy among the audience.( Masion & Andews, 1).

Robert Wise was also contributed immensely to the development of the national cinema as the president of the American Guild of Directors. Additionally, he had his input as the president of the Academy of motion pictures, arts and sciences.

Somebody Up There Likes Me Analysis

Somebody up there likes me is an award winning film based on an autobiography of Rocky. It will be used in this text as the basis upon which to analyze Robert Wise works. The analysis of a film entails going through the plot of the film, the cast, the production, the styles used and the subject matter that the film is based on.


The film begins when Rocky Graziano acted by Paul Newman undergoes difficult childhood marred by lack of parental guidance. His is physically assaulted by the father. He later decides to join a criminal gang that has a long history of criminal activities. He is arrested and sent to prison where he still continues to be defiant to the prison authorities. When released, he is drafted by the army but he runs away. He is again arrested and taken to the army barracks for rehabilitation. He finds himself lacking money and thus joins boxing as a means to earn a living. He is again found by the United States Army and serves within the barracks for a year before returning to take up his boxing career.

The actor develops the title of the film when he gets introduced to his sisters' friends, Norma with whom they fall in love and get married. He is leading a new and sanctifies life. He fights and loses a boxing title to Tony Zale.

He meets someone they knew each other with at the prison who intimidates him into a fight but he keeps his cool and avoids the fight all together. The district attoney reprimands him to name the person who blackmailed him but he refuses. His manager gets him a contest to fight when incidentally he meets Tony Zale once again. He wins. ( Niemi, 197)


The cast list for this film includes Paul Newman who plays the role for Rocky Graziano. Pier Angeli acts as Norman Graziano.Irving Cohen is played by Everette Sloane. Ma Barbella is acted by Eileen Herckat. Harold Stones does Nick Barbella. Romolo is done by Sal Mineo. Bryson is acted by Roy Stricklin. Robert Loggia plays the role of Frankie Peppo.

There are two actors in the film that are not accredited actors. Steve McQueen who does the role of Fidel and Angela CartWright who is Rock's daughter in the film.


The production of this film is done by Charles Schnee. He was responsible for the scripting of this film, coordinated the writing. Robert Wise directed the movie. The screen play of this film is done by Ernest Lehaman based on the autobiography of Rocky Graziano which was written by Rowland Barber. Alongside other actors, Newman, Angeli, Norma, Cohen, Sloane, Barbella, Mineo and Hercat. ( Eliot, 16).

Subject Matter in the Film

That main subject matter that comes out in the film is transformation. The main character undergoes different forms of transformations throughout the film. He is first transformed into a rogue because of being continuously beaten by the father. Rocky was again transformed from a rogue member of this dangerous gangster to a hardworking man with a family. Lack parental care makes him lead a rogue lifestyle but he is transformed after coming from prison.


Robert Wise uses and editing technique where he cuts the sound and the picture to different news room around the world. He uses this technique to demonstrate the support Rocky Graziano had during the final fight in the film. The rest of the world including his family members is glued to their radios expecting something new. This kind of technique is used to communicate the idea of where people's thoughts lie. ( Dancyger, 73).The styles used in this case also assist the director to bring out the genre of the film as fictions.


Robert Wise was a respectable film director who directed well over forty films, twenty of which were directed in the 1950s. Having gone to look for work as a journalist, he was first employed as a manual laborer at RKO before being elevated as a music and sound editor in the same company.

He worked well though his first worse especially those that were based in horror form were never noticed. Despite the fact that he was not celebrated, he continued to work hard in this filed and improving on the different forms of films including satirical comedy. This was the beginning of his breakthrough.

He has used various styles in filming his films that have had the different reception among the audience. His styles were majorly aimed at retaining the movie at length in the mind of the viewer and also to achieve clarity. He perfected the art of optical printer technique which made the film Citizen Kane.

His movies have covered a number of subject matter that include but not limited to murder as can be seen in his film Born To Kill, death as is demonstrated in his film The Haunting and love that comes out in the film Somebody Up There Loves Me. His films have contributed immensely in the development of various techniques in the national theatre including the use of picture motions as seen in his film The Sound of Music. His humility, hard work, intelligence and thoughtfulness influenced his body of work.

The film somebody up there likes me was inspired by Rocky's autobiography. Rocky played by Paul Newman along other characters is revealed to be rogue child that joined a dangerous gang sent to jail. H comes out reformed and ventures into boxing as a career. He finally finds someone who loves him in his wife Norman. These works indeed confirm that Robert Wise was a celebrated director in film industry.

Works Cited.

Busch, Justin E. A. Self and Society in the Films of Robert Wise. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2010. Internet resource.

Dancyger Ken. The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice.Florida. CRC Press. 2014.

Eliot, Marc. Steve Mcqueen: A Biography. London: Aurum Press, 2011. Internet resource

Gehring, Wes D. Robert Wise: Shadowlands. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2012. Print.

Keenan, Richard C. The Films of Robert Wise. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2007. Internet resource.

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