Observations on Life, Faith, Media & Technology

The Cinderella Man

Cinderellaman “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


In Cinderella Man, Russell Crowe portrays 1930’s heavyweight champion James J. Braddock, who defied all odds and beat reigning champ Max Baer, who had already killed two men in the ring when Braddock fought him in 1934.  Joe Louis, who later defeated Braddock and claimed the heavyweight title in 1937 called Braddock “The most courageous man I have ever fought.”

You often hear the term “must see” attached to a movie.  For my money, if ever a movie deserved that phrase to be attached to it, this is it.  The story is compelling, the acting is superb, the cinematography and editing are masterful.  The fight sequences are gripping while never sinking to the level of the “Rocky” movies.  You cannot help but be drawn into the story and immediately admire the basic goodness of this remarkable man.

Crowe and Zellweger deliver convincing and moving portrayals of Braddock and his beloved wife Mae.  The depiction of life in America during the Great Depression will give you a new appreciation for why that event forever changed the way those who lived through it lead their lives.  In one scene, Braddock’s daughter is shown having one slice of fried bologna for her dinner, and then asking for more.  “I’m sorry, honey, that’s all there is,” her mother sadly tells her.  Braddock hands his slice of bologna to his daughter, telling her he is still full because he dreamed the night before that he ate at the Ritz-Carlton.

The most moving scene in the movie for me comes when Braddock goes to his old friends at Madison Square Garden and begs for money to turn their heat back on and buy food for his children.  You feel his shame as he swallows every ounce of his pride for the sake of his family.

James J. Braddock was a man of great integrity who loved his family more than life itself.  He died in 1974 still desperately in love with Mae and still living in the home that he bought for them with the winnings from the Baer fight.  His story is one that needed to be told.  This movie tells it powerfully without ever being sappy or sinking to the level of a morality play.

Go see this movie!  It is “a must see.”

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