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
The filmmakers based the dock scenes on the Depression-era photographs of Lewis Hines. Hines's photographs helped change child-labor laws. 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 »
Cinderella Man is the story of a Depression-era boxer and American hero Jim Braddock, but it contains enough love interest, family interest, and great-champion-of-the-people interest to satisfy most Saturday night out filmgoers. It's a total no-brainer, beautifully served up, and all the clichés delivered with such accurate emotional punch that you forgive it for being a tad unoriginal.
Gladiator and bar-brawl man Russell Crowe plays the lead role and Renée Zellweger puts in a good performance as the ideal and very loving wife that supports her husband through thick and thin. The story starts in 1928 when Braddock is doing quite well, but the depression hits and, with an injured hand, he is forced to work in the shipyard. He and his family live in fairly abject poverty until a lucky break enables him to make a comeback.
This is the working man's hero who never says a bad word, teaches his kids never to steal for food even when they are starving, and nobly gives back his social security money the minute he can afford to. Zellwegger is similarly faultless of course, striking the right balance between supportiveness and concern that her man could get his brains knocked out permanently. The last fight generates quite a lot of genuine excitement due largely to neat editing and intense cinematography - you can almost feel your nose bleed just watching it.
This is classic American-style hero creation and worship and, on the face of it, healthy enough. So why the doubts? Sure you can sit back and just enjoy it, it's the type of story the U.S. has done well for a long time; but compare it with European cinema and it all seems very full of absolutes. The heroes don't have any failings. The choice is between total success and total failure, no half measures. Much as I admire the use of role models, I somehow wonder if more human heroes aren't sometimes called for, people who do quite well, who sincerely better themselves and others, but without becoming the most applauded individual on the continent. In watching the big picture we sometimes miss the detail that makes life real to everyone, not just the lucky few.
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