During the Great Depression, a common-man hero, James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe), 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, James J. Braddock never relinquished his determination. Driven by love, honor, and an incredible dose 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, fuelled by something beyond mere competition, kept winning. Suddenly, the ordinary working man became the mythic athlete. Carrying the hopes and dreams of the ...Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Professional boxers played James J. Braddock's opponents. They were told to land their blows as close to Russell Crowe's body as possible. Unfortunately, they sometimes couldn't pull back in time and ended up injuring Crowe. See more »
Contrary to the way it was portrayed in the film, The New York Times called the Baer-Braddock fight "one of the worst heavyweight championship contests in the long history of the ring," noting that Baer, "ever the clown, didn't want to fight" and "could not be serious, even as a fortune was slipping through his fingers." 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 »
Excellent fiction treatment of historical boxer "Humbling Bull"
Just saw a preview of this film (opens June 3) and as shamelessly emotional as it is, I liked it very much. It provides a more visceral view of the Great Depression era than did another fine film, Seabiscuit. Call it Seabiscuit with even more heart!
Ron Howard teams with Russell Crowe (James J. Braddock) again and shows they can repeat with a winner. Like him as a person or not, Crowe puts forth another finely tuned, very convincing performance. Unlike in real life, he can be quite humble and sympathetic while beating the heck out of people. Really, his character is affecting, especially in his scenes with Braddock's children, and may be fairly reflective of the actual person of Braddock. (The fight game at that time, or any time, was not for saints but, whatever.) Renee Zellweger, who is not my favorite except for a brilliant portrayal in Cold Mountain, plays the wife effectively and mirrors the emotions for the females in the audience. (If my observations at the showing are typical, women fans will spend time alternately heading their eyes and virtually cheering out loud for Braddock/Crowe.)
There are a number of good supporting actors but Paul Giamatti strikes again! He plays the manager who supports Braddock through thick and thin and his character recalls the era better than anyone in the film. I don't know what kind of research he did for this role but his Joe Gould is the archetypal boxing manager of the time or, at least, our cinema image of one. Here's hoping he pulled some big bucks for a role for once.
(You will certainly recognize Bruce McGill, as the seemingly hard-hearted fight promoter who could care less about Braddock but really doesn't want to see him get killed in the ring, from many movie and TV appearances where he is always reliable and who may be remembered from an early exposure as "D-Day" in Animal House.)
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