Paul Newman's emotion and intensity create a memorable performance, Rocky's beginnings as a poor angry young man, and his final victory as a family man who has finally found his place in the world are handled realistically and sensitively. Pier Angeli is lovely as Rocky's wife, gentle but determined, the film also features Sal Mineo and a uncredited appearance of a young Steve McQueen.
The film has a gritty edge similar to Wise's later West Side Story, but is ultimately an uplifting tale which praises perseverance and belief in yourself and in those around you.
Fans of Paul should definitely see this film, as it paved the way for many of his later roles, complex, rebellious characters who have been treated badly in life and are looking for a way out. Sports fans will also enjoy it, and may be reminded of the famous Rocky films.