During the Great Depression, a common-man hero, James J. Braddock--a.k.a. the Cinderella Man--was to become one of the most surprising sports legends in history. By the early 1930s, the impoverished ex-prizefighter was seemingly as broken-down, beaten-up and out-of-luck as much of the rest of the American populace who had hit rock bottom. His career appeared to be finished, he was unable to pay the bills, the only thing that mattered to him--his family--was in danger, and he was even forced to go on Public Relief. But deep inside, Jim Braddock never relinquished his determination. Driven by love, honor and an incredible dose the ones who are do of grit, he willed an impossible dream to come true. In a last-chance bid to help his family, Braddock returned to the ring. No one thought he had a shot. However Braddock, fueled by something beyond mere competition, kept winning. Suddenly, the ordinary working man became the mythic athlete. Carrying the hopes and dreams of the disenfranchised... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Before Damon Runyon gave Braddock his nickname, the term "Cinderella man" was considered an insult similar to the use of "gigolo" today. A Cinderella man was a downtrodden man who met and married a rich "Princess Charming" in the same way that Cinderella met and married Prince Charming. A Cinderella man was also considered to be less than a true man, as he allowed his wife to fund their lifestyle. An example of this occurs in the movie Platinum Blonde (1931): When the male lead is called a Cinderella man to his face, he punches the man and tells the man that he wears the pants in the marriage. See more »
Braddock, Gould and the radio announcer all refer to the Madison Square Garden Bowl as "The Garden," but that was a nickname reserved for Madison Square Garden itself. The Bowl wasn't even in Manhattan -- it was in Queens -- and it was an outdoor arena. See more »
Before the title appears the following: "In all the history of the boxing game, you'll find no human interest story to compare with the life narrative of James J. Braddock." - Damon Runyon (1936) See more »
I saw this film on May 17th in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Film Festival that screens films for their Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "...explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.
The impact of this film on the viewer is as powerful as Rocky and Million Dollar Baby. While all three films have boxing and love of the underdog as a common theme, this movie is much more. The backdrop of the movie is Depression-era America around NYC. And you are taken back to this depressing and hopeless time of willing, hard-working, idle, discouraged, poor people.
The threesome of Russell Crowe, as the fighter Braddock, and Renee Zellweger, as his wife, and Paul Giamatti, as his manager were Academy-Award worthy. They professionally played their parts and let the story be the real star.
Braddock is a down-on-his-luck aging and hurt boxer who can no longer box and can no longer find enough work to support his wife and three kids. By a twist of fate, he is given another chance to fight, and his career begins again.
Braddock and his wife display low-key dignity and honor that we wish we all had. They are good spouses, parents, neighbors and citizens without "showing off." While this is a serious drama, it has a lot of light humor throughout the picture that is entertaining and appropriate. Director Ron Howard does a wonderful storytelling job and has kept directorial tricks to a minimum. The fight scenes were the most real I have seen in any movie.
This is film-making at its best.
FYI - There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past winners going back 70 years.
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