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Jul 1 08 10:13 AM
I just feel like my heart is going to burst because it's full of rainbows.
Jul 1 08 10:28 AM
Jul 1 08 4:42 PM
Jul 1 08 5:07 PM
Corky: Crowe looks like a boxer in new film
"Cinderella Man" is easily the best boxing movie ever made. There's isn't much competition, and Russell Crowe, who throws a punch
even better than he throws a telephone, ranks among the all-time great movie fighters.
I've read reviews claiming the movie isn't about boxing at all, but that's a reach. It isn't about boxing the same way "Field of
Dreams" isn't about baseball. They are and they aren't.
If the movie wasn't about boxing, what was James J. Braddock, played by Crowe, doing in it? Not to mention the real Angelo Dundee, playing a bucket man
in Braddock's corner?
There was a Depression going on outside, there were soup lines, bread lines and a nation falling apart. That was the theme.
But it's a boxing movie and for an actor, Crowe is one helluva fighter. Dundee must have trained him. He also taught Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray
Leonard, among others.
Crowe is a pretty good hitter, but it's the way he moves and carries his gloves that are impressive. That, and his size. If he did bounce a telephone off
a bellhop's head in that New York City hotel, it's a wonder the poor guy lived.
Jack Palance and Anthony Quinn were fighters before they became actors, and it showed in their versions of "Requiem For A Heavyweight" on
television (1957, Palance) and film (1962, Quinn). Coley Wallace, who played the lead in 1953's "The Joe Louis Story," was the only man ever to
beat Rocky Marciano. He did so on points when they were amateurs.
Braddock's true story out-Rockys all the Rocky films. He came out of nowhere and was fighting to put food on the table for his young family when, as a
10-1 underdog, he won the heavyweight title from Max Baer on June 13, 1935.
Braddock would lose his title to Louis in 1937. Traveling through Tucson that year, Louis was interviewed in his railroad car by Hank Squires, the
Tucson Citizen sports editor. The late Mr. Squires' daughter, Pat Klein, provided a clipping of that interview.
"What are your chances of beating Braddock if you meet this summer?" Squires asked Louis. "I believe I can knock him out," Louis said.
Asked if he had seen Braddock in action, Louis said, "I saw him against Baer. He is a good puncher and a fine boxer."
Louis liked Braddock. "I think Braddock is the nicest man who ever held the title. He is a perfect gentleman and a regular fellow."
Crowe may not always be a perfect gentleman off screen, but he throws a mean punch on it.
Crowe is a pretty good hitter, but it's the way he moves and carries his gloves that are impressive. That, and his size. If he did bounce a telephone off
a bellhop's head in that New York City hotel, it's a wonder the poor guy lived.
Crowe is a pretty good hitter, but it's the way he moves and carries his gloves that are impressive. That, and his size. If he did bounce a telephone off
a bellhop's head in that New York City hotel, it's a wonder the poor guy lived.
Jul 1 08 5:30 PM
What amused me was the 'size' reference
great they mentioned Russell and CM as among the best. ">
the 'phone' references are probably going to be there forever - as I'm sure Russ realizes. Thank God he has a sense of humor - even if the
situation isnt humorous.
the way he moves and carries his gloves that are impressive. That, and his size.
Bud looks big because he moves and thinks like a big man and Curtis surrounded him with tiny actors.
Jul 1 08 7:30 PM
Even while glowing this guy has to slam Russell - it's tiresome.
Here's proof that fairy tales can come true in Hollywood: Cinderella Man could yet get to go to the Governors Ball! GoldDerby guru Pete Hammond reports,
"Cinderella Man got very strong reaction at the academy screening, which pulled in a good-size crowd about 650 people. There was applause through the
credits and, after the movie, academy members were talking it up. Mind you, this took place AFTER all of the disappointing news broke about low box-office
numbers and Russell Crowe hurling that phone at a hotel clerk. So that means Cinderella Man is definitely still a contender." Certainly, Universal keeps
on swinging. The steadfast studio plans to release Cinderella Man to theaters again this fall, then launch the DVD in December as if it was another film
debut following the successful strategy of Seabiscuit and Gladiator.
Crowe wins over audiences with 'Cinderella Man'
By Amie Sugarman, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Although a 19-year-old girl is not the most likely person to love a boxing movie, the addition of several of the best actors in Hollywood, a renowned
director, and one of the most unbelievable true sports stories of the century makes this quite possible in Ron Howard's "Cinderella Man,"
starring Russell Crowe as the Depression-era boxer, James Braddock.
The film opens on Braddock as a rising boxing star in 1928, living in a wealthy New Jersey suburb with his beautiful wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger), and their
three children. The movie then cuts to 1933, when the Great Depression cloaks the country, including the Braddock family, in poverty and failure. At the same
time that the United States struggles economically, Braddock and his manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), battle a losing streak, culminating in the loss of
his boxing license. His family becomes so desperate in its poverty that Braddock continues to beg for work as a manual laborer on a nearby dock, even when
his hand is broken in three places. Following a scene in which all the neighborhood children must share a birthday cake because they cannot afford their own,
Gould comes through in the clinch with a one-time fight offer. Braddock's shocking win marks his return to boxing and the start of his status as a
working-man's icon in his ascent to the Heavyweight title match against the lethal then-reigning champion, Max Baer (Craig Bierko).
This uplifting story of Braddock, who served as a symbol of hope to the public in his rise from dire poverty to the pinnacle of the boxing world, is more
than just an average sports movie filled with intense boxing matches. Thanks to Howard's direction and a well-written screenplay by Cliff Hollingsworth,
"Cinderella Man" makes a powerful social statement, illustrating the horrors of the Great Depression.
The contrast between the Braddock's house in 1928, with a lovely backyard, and their dirty one-room apartment in 1933 clearly demonstrates the hard times
that fell upon everyone during the Depression. Howard creates a dark world of misery, in which one of the Braddock children is compelled to steal salami to
obtain enough food so that he can continue to live with his parents. A scene of Hooverville -- the shanty-town that sprung up in Central Park during the
Depression -- breaks hearts, as corpses lie nearly unnoticed between shacks.
Amidst the Great Depression's atmosphere of hopelessness, the public yearned for a beacon of light to provide faith that success was indeed attainable.
James Braddock valiantly served this role as he moved from unemployed on public assistance, to a Heavyweight boxing contender who publicly repaid the money
he had received from public assistance. The media seized on this "Cinderella story," and the public attended his matches in enthusiastic droves.
Crowe magnificently steps into the unlikely hero role of Braddock with modesty and grace. He physically alters his appearance for the part, slimming
down with lean muscle, to play the family man and boxer. Donning a Jersey accent, Crowe plays the doting husband to Mae, the loving father to his kids, the
old friend of Gould, and the determined boxer who continues to fight through broken ribs. Crowe's believability peaks in a particularly heart-wrenching
scene in which Braddock is forced, with tears in his eyes, to beg his former friends for money to turn back on their electricity.
Supporting performances by Zellweger and Giamatti are also expectedly wonderful. Zellweger turns Mae into not just an adoring and supportive wife, but also a
feisty rebel, dousing her husband's obnoxious opponent with wine in a posh restaurant. Zellweger and Crowe work together to conjure believable chemistry
as a romantic couple battling the external adversity of extreme poverty.
Giamatti gives another fantastic performance as Braddock's supportive, quick-witted manager and friend. Thanks in part to cleverly-scripted dialogue,
Giamatti and Crowe banter wittily like old friends. Howard's adroit direction elicits top performances from all actors involved, in addition to creating
an atmosphere of excitement and social change. The direction and cinematography of the boxing matches is so exciting that viewers actually sit on the edges
of their seats, as cameras rapidly swirl around the fighters to the sounds of cheering fans.
Overall, the fabulous direction, acting performances and screenplay transform "Cinderella Man" from what could have been a cheesy, average boxing
movie into a triumph that prompts viewers to simultaneously cheer and cry. Although the characters may be a bit too black-and-white, lacking some complexity
and nuance, viewers actually grow to care about them, which is a hallmark of a great movie.
Sorta sounds like marriage, doesnt it??
'Cinderella Man' delivers a knockout
July 3, 2005
For just a New York Fourth of July weekend minute, let's not discuss the Padres and trade talk and injuries and the pennant race and the Chargers being
three weeks from training camp. Let's go to the picture show.
There's no question filmmakers have made far more bad sports movies than good. Some have been atrocious (catch William Bendix in "The Babe
Ruth Story" . And yet, boxing grit somehow has mixed it up well in the ring with
Maybe it's the fierce, bloody, one-on-one of the sweet science. Certainly, the fight game has opened itself up to more evil-doing, more corruption and
chaos than all sports combined over the past century. Storylines abound. No activity has had more characters, on and off the canvas. And, if you've been
to big fights, you know they are unmatched in electricity. Nothing close.
Which brings us to Ron Howard's "Cinderella Man," Opie's directorial saga of Depression-era boxer James J. Braddock, who rose from
hard-luck, poverty-stricken (busted flat in '29), sometime-dock worker to heavyweight champion. A masterpiece. It knocked me out.
Maybe I'm now too far removed from the filthy, rat-tat-tat, machine-gun realism of Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull," and Robert De
Niro's astonishing take on Jake LaMotta. It was the best film of the 1980s. But, ask me today which of the two I'd want to see if I could watch one
boxing movie before I croak, it would be "Cinderella Man."
It's the best fight film, and I can't believe cinema will have a better turn this year. Now that Paul Newman is 80 and works very little and De Niro
seems more interested in money roles not exactly a bad thing; Olivier did it Russell Crow is the best working actor we have. Crow is brilliant as Braddock, a
proud parent first, and he handles the boxing scenes some of the finest on film convincingly, with the air of a man who has been through it.
This is all good stuff. Renee Zellweger who plays Braddock's adoring, fisticuffs-hating wife is wonderful, as usual. And Paul Giamatti, as Braddock's
loyal manager, all but steals the movie and probably would if Crowe weren't so damn good.
Most important to me, the film moves along, and it's so smart, such a good story. That Opie kid, he can direct, and we now know he can handle most
anything. I can't recall another film more convincingly capturing the Depression without getting overly maudlin than this one. Howard has the touch.
There have been so many fine boxing movies: "Champion" with Kirk Douglas; "The Set-Up" with the excellent Robert Ryan; "Body and
Soul" with John Garfield; Newman's superb Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me;" "Ali" with Will Smith (exceptional);
Rod Serling's "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (either one, be it the big-screen version with Anthony Quinn or the TV beauty with Jack Palance);
"Kid Galahad," the 1937 classic directed by Michael "Casablanca" Curtiz; "City for Conquest" with James Cagney; "The
Harder they Fall" with Humphrey Bogart; John Huston's underrated "Fat City;" the Ali-in-Zaire documentary, "When We Were Kings;"
and last year's Oscar winner, "Million Dollar Baby."
"Rocky." A true feel-good film. But it may be the worst boxing movie, a fantasy. The fight scenes are ludicrous. If two heavyweights beat on
themselves that much, a coroner would be refereeing. Cutting eyelids open with razor blades? Please. At least it was better than the next 55
But look at the list and you know boxing has served Hollywood well. Other sports most certainly haven't, especially football, which should transfer to
the big screen but has not.
I make "North Dallas Forty" the finest football film, and it isn't a great movie. "Semi-Tough" had a real chance. It was superbly
cast Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, Kris Kristofferson but became a dog with six legs. When you consider it took the name of the best sports novel, by Dan
Jenkins, the best sportswriter since Homer, it ranks as my most hated sports movie. I still can't believe they ruined it. How about a remake, Opie?
The football game in "M*A*S*H" is the funniest put on film. "Horse Feathers" could be the best football movie, but it's hard to tell,
the Marx Brothers being so ridiculously hilarious and all (Groucho, goodness, how great was that guy?). And, if you get a chance to see "Pigskin
Parade," which I believe was Judy Garland's debut, don't miss it.
Baseball has done well. "Bull Durham," "Field of Dreams," "Eight Men Out," "The Natural." "Major League" is
hysterical. So is "The Babe Ruth Story," albeit for other reasons. "Bull Durham." It's very, very good.
Basketball has "Hoosiers," which is real "Rocky." Golf has "Tin Cup," enjoyable but not great; "Caddyshack," which is
Dangerfield/Murray funny; and "Bagger Vance," almost mystical. Horse racing has "Seabiscuit," which I love (many horse racing aficionados
do not). Hockey has Newman's "Slap Shot," far better than the sport. Track has "Chariots of Fire," cycling "Breaking Away."
Pool is a sport. So, the best sports movie is "The Hustler." Newman his body of work over the past 50 years is the best of any film actor
is over-the-top sensational, and he teams with evil-may-care George C. Scott and Jackie "Minnesota Fats" Gleason. Phenomenal. But "Cinderella
Man" isn't far off.
Jul 1 08 8:16 PM
Funny how really bad reviews are usually written illiterately?
Funny how really bad reviews are usually written illiterately?
Jul 1 08 9:02 PM
after 7 times I get so involved I tend to tune out surrounding people.
This movie reviewer would like to go on record as saying that I didn't want to like this movie. I really didn't. I was a bigger fan of A Beautiful
Mind than what most people were, and I love the cast and director involved in the project, but part of me just didn't want to like this. Maybe because it
was a 'boxing movie,' but just like Million Dollar Baby did, this pulled me in.
The first of the movie is slow and it's the biggest reason why there is downgrade for the final score. It takes a while for this movie to take off but
when it does, it really does it well. The writing is impressive but the directing from Ron Howard is what truly surprised me. This truly is his most complete
and least cliched work to date. With his smart and clever uses of the camera, he really gets the movie audience into the ring and into the heart of this one
man, his family, and the people of the Depression. He makes it all become so real. I am a huge fan of Thomas Newman as well and even though here more than
ever he relies too much on past scores (I swear, I thought that I heard Finding Nemo and Angels In America pieces), it is still a great score. And it is
gonna take a lot for this movie's cinematography by Salvatore Totino to be topped this year.
After this performance, I am even more confident that Russell Crowe is the most talented actor in Hollywood. He nails this character and shows
another side to himself with this role and portrayal. He could be called the male Meryl Streep in the way that he so carefully chooses which role to attack
and bring to life on the screen. He is Oscar worthy here, for sure. In some scenes, just a glance causes the tear ducts to open. Renee Zellweger was
surprisingly good as well. She didn't look too impressive in the trailer but she is in the movie much more than what we figured she would be based on the
trailer. She shows much more reserve here than she has since her work in One True Thing and what emerges is a great performance. However, I think hers will
be the hardest nomination to get come Oscar time out of all that the movie is predicted to be up for. Then there's Paul Giamatti. He has been
ridiculously snubbed by the Academy for the past two years and it will be interesting to see if they do it again. He could very easily WIN for this
performance and it would be deserving as well. His chemistry with Crowe was really something to see.
This movie is what Seabiscuit only dreamed of being. The tag line to the movie reads, "When the world was on it's knees, he brought us to our
feet." This movie succeeds in living up to that tag line in showing the story of this man and his family in more than one way. First, it shows how it
was true during the time of the Depression. But bringing people to their feet like that happens today as well. At least it did today when clapping and
cheering broke out numerous times during this film from countless people in the crowd of movie-goers, myself included (the last thirty minutes, especially).
You feel like you shouldn't bite into the bait that is Cinderella Man, but it's hard to resist. The cast and crew and everyone involved made it that
Grade for Cinderella Man: A-
He could be called the male Meryl Streep
Story, camera, actors score a knockout
By ROBERT BUTLER
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
If there were ever any doubt that Russell Crowe is the greatest screen actor of his generation, Cinderella Man should put matters to rest.
Equal parts Seabiscuit and Rocky, Ron Howards film finds Crowe playing real-life heavyweight fighter James Braddock. Its not a flashy role - Braddock was a
quiet, even-tempered and modest man devoted to his wife and kids. No chest-thumping or womanizing for this guy.
Which makes Crowes performance all the more remarkable.
Denied the sort of character hooks that make for fine scenery chewing, Crowe has been forced to go deep within himself, calling on his own reserves of
decency and inner strength. The resulting performance is inspiring, heartbreaking and overwhelming in its simple eloquence.
Cliff Hollingsworths screenplay begins in the late 1920s with Braddock winning a major bout in New York City.
He returns to his pleasant home in suburban New Jersey, to his wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger), and their three children. The camera pans across Jim and Maes
well-appointed bedroom, taking in the personal objects and framed photos atop a dresser.
And then, in a transition that covers five years and one of the greatest upheavals in American history, the scene changes to a moldy cellar wall, crude
wooden shelves, a bare light bulb. Its now 1933, and Jim Braddock has been wiped out by the double whammy of a failed boxing career and the stock market
Jim, Mae and the kids are renting a bleak basement apartment. Its winter. Jim can find only occasional work on the docks, and dinner is a slice of fried
bologna and a cup of watered-down milk. If something doesnt happen soon, theyre going to have to ship the children off to live with relatives.
We share Jims shame at standing in line for a few dollars in relief money. Even more dispiriting is a trip to Manhattan so that he can pass the hat among the
boxing managers and promoters for whom he once earned a small fortune.
Finally hes so desperate that despite near-starvation and a broken hand he begs his old manager (Paul Giamatti) for a chance to fight in an undercard in a
local ring. His performance is so miserable that hes banned from boxing.
Amazingly enough, within a couple of years Braddock was fighting to take the crown away from Max Baer, a testosterone-fueled brute who already had killed two
opponents in the ring.
But by this time Braddocks comeback story, his personal integrity (with his first winnings he returned to the welfare office and paid back the state) and his
family image had made him a symbol of hope for a dispirited nation. The press dubbed him the Cinderella Man.
The films last half-hour is devoted to a blow-by-blow re-creation of the Braddock-Baer fight, and its one of the most grueling, exciting and tense boxing
sequences ever captured on film.
Special kudos to Craig Bierko, whose Baer is a scary blend of unsuppressed ego and physical intimidation. Even if you know how the fights going to turn out
(Braddock wins), youll be wrapped up in the suspense of this monumental slugfest.
Howard steers away from directorial flourishes and attention-grabbing visuals.
Usually he approaches his story with a handheld camera whose occasionally jumpy images suggest the Braddocks struggle for survival and the bumpy road of Jims
Although Crowes work here may be the most convincing display of pure star power well see this year, one cannot discount the contributions of the
Zellwegers Mae is more than just the supportive little woman - shes an iron-willed realist who knows when she can change her husbands mind and when she cant.
And the film carries a refreshingly strong suggestion of eroticism within marriage - usually in a Hollywood movie, romance ends with the wedding ceremony.
Giamatti is his usual excellent self as Braddocks trainer/manager, finding a forcefulness thats a 180-degree turn from his work in Sideways.
Cinderella Man isnt a yarn with a lot of hidden meanings. It is what it is: a great story of a guy who fought back from obscurity and exhibited a
The two-hour, 24-minute film, opening today at Pueblo's Tinseltown USA, is rated PG-13 for intense boxing violence and some heavy language.
Crowe has been forced to go deep within himself, calling on his own reserves of decency and inner strength.
Forget The Others, The Movie Of The Summer Is Cinderella Man
I have almost always preferred older classic movies to the films that are released these days. Half the movies seem to be made for kids who want to scream
for an hour without stopping and most of the rest seem to be package deals, in the sense that a couple of so-called stars are matched (or mismatched) in
movies that effectively run a week or two until word of mouth kills them.
Thats why I looked forward to Cinderella Man. Several friends recommended it, and director Ron Howard tends to make good movies. Word of mouth on this one
Cinderella Man lives up to the raves. Far more people at the theater that night were rushing to see monsters devour earth or the early psychotherapy of
Batman, but Cinderella Man is different. It is the basically true story of prizefighter James Braddock (Russell Crowe), a true man of the people. At the
start of the movie, he is an up-and-coming young boxer in New Jersey. He has a happy marriage and three children. His undoing is the Great Depression, which
causes him to lose all his money and forces him to fight when he has a broken hand. The damage ends his career, but not the film.
The film explores how Braddock and his family faced up to the grim realities of the Depression: he begs for money at the hangout of the boxing promoters, and
his wife has their children stay with relatives because they have no heat or electricity. In another scene, a Hooverville collection of squatter shacks in
Central Park is pushed down and burned by the police with the Fifth Avenue skyline in the background. In its own way, it is as remarkable as the great scene
of Atlanta burning in Gone With the Wind.
Due to a lucky break, Braddock gets a second chance. And, like all movies of this type, he makes the most of it. I tend to be a cynic, and boxing movies are
not my favorites, but I was out of my seat rooting for him. Crowe brilliantly portrays the Jersey fighter, reminiscent of Gary Cooper and James Stewart in
Frank Capra films, where the average guy turns out to be special. Even more impressively, Ron Howard brings the people into the movie. Too many movies focus
solely on their stars. Howard presents boxing promoters, priests, neighborhood folk, each a person in his or her own right. The people cared about Braddock,
and so did people who went to this film.
Forget the other summer movies. Who cares about monster machines? We know they wont kill Tom Cruise. Batman will go on. Somehow Mr. and Mrs. Smith will
figure something out. The movie of the summer is Cinderella Man.
should we get his title tattooed on our foreheads?
Jul 2 08 7:30 PM
should we get his title tattooed on our foreheads?
hang on CM, just hang on - the audience is out there...somewhere
and I cannot drum up enthusiasm for JD
Seriously, I was shocked to see the trailer. That's Johnny Depp?
I did recognize him...I just didn't want to.
Jul 5 08 10:45 AM
Penny - do you think kids will like it? The original Wonka was far from my favorite film as a kid - it is truly nightmarish. My kids really liked Lemony
Snickett and Harry Potter, and both have dark elements to them. I generally see all of Johnny's films. He makes interesting choices and does terrific,
I still can't see MJ being the inspiration for this character, and can see the happy smilie-like faces of Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rodgers. That sort.
I think children can take quite a bit of 'darkness' and when we shelter them from life's realities we do them a real injustice.
well, I knew there are devoted Depp fans (yes, I'll STOP using JD - sorry Joy
Cinderella Man: A Film For Us
Tuesday, July 19, 2005 06:48:36 AM
The crowd of 35,000 sits in silence as James Braddock makes his way down the aisle for his title shot against the heavyweight champion of the world. As he
steps into the ring, a piercing cry comes from deep in the darkness.
"You can do it, Jimmy!"
A wave of emotion breaks and crashes ipnto cheers for the underdog.
"Cinderella Man" is director Ron Howard's tribute to one of the best men ever to lace on gloves and to the character of the men and women who
held families together and never lost their love of country at a time when it seemed like the country had failed them. This wonderful film is what movies can
"Cinderella Man" has been mocked as "Seabiscuit with boxing gloves." Do not believe it. The casting -- Russell Crowe as James Braddock,
Renee Zellweger as his wife, Mae, Paul Giamatti as the loyal, savvy, witty, gutsy manager Jay Gould, and Craig Bierko as an amoral and sadistic Max Baer --
and acting are superb.
The story is that of Braddock, a contender in the late 1920s before the stock market crash wiped him out and a busted right hand caused so dismal a
performance in a fight he lost his license to box.
Desperate, Braddock gets work on the Hoboken docks. But as the electricity to his basement flat is cut off and his kids are sent to live with relatives, the
fighter to whom family is all puts his pride aside and, a cap hooding his eyes, goes to the welfare office to stand in line with the beaten men of his time
to get his $19 in relief.
Through it all, Braddock never loses his decency, never curses his fate, never despairs. He accepts the hand God has dealt him and is thankful for the
blessings he has: a loving and adoring wife and kids. Jimmy and Mae do not need to talk to communicate what they think and feel as the Depression begins to
defeat them. Their faces and expressions speak the words.
Seemingly down and out for good, Braddock gets his break. Though he has not fought for a year, Gould wangles him an offer of $250 to fight in Madison Square
Garden the next night in place of a boxer who had to drop out of the preliminary to the Max Baer-Primo Carnera championship bout.
As Braddock walks toward the ring, a cynical reporter dictates the opening line of next day's story, "The last time Braddock was seen on his feet
was when he came down the aisle." But Braddock wins with a startling KO, and the comeback begins. As money comes in, he returns to the window of the
relief office and hands the same lady a roll of bills to pay back all that his family had been given.
These were the values the Jimmy Braddocks were taught. These were the values by which so many in our parents' generation lived. This was how they acted,
and they did not think it heroic. When a reporter asks at a press conference about his returning the relief money, Braddock says simply: "This is a
great country, a country that helps a man when he is in trouble. I thought I should return it."
Men and women like the James and Mae Braddock of this film were the products of homes, schools, churches and parishes, and Howard's depiction of the
community that produced them marks this as one of the most pro-Catholic films Hollywood has produced since the 1940s Bing Crosby-Ingrid Bergman classic,
"The Bells of St. Mary's."
Howard is unrelenting in his depiction of the grim and gritty Hoovervilles and what they did to families, and his portrayal underscores the nobility of those
who endured it.
Among criticisms of the film is that it does an injustice to Baer, who is portrayed as a loutish womanizer who revels in his reputation as a ring killer for
having beaten a fighter to death and so punished another he died early in his next bout. As boxing writer Bert Sugar recounts, Baer was no angel -- he lost
fights for fouling -- and he had "a killer punch," one of the best in boxing history, but he began to hold it back after beating Ernie Campbell to
And Baer underestimated Braddock, a 10-to-1 underdog, and failed to train. "Braddock can use the title," Max joked. "He has five kids. I
don't know how many I have."
Yet, as a villainous Baer, Bierko is outstanding. He even looks like Max Baer, a man bigger than Braddock, who had fought as a light heavyweight.
Late in the film, as Mae finally realizes her Jimmy is going to fight the killer Baer, no matter how she pleads, she hugs him, and says, "You're the
Bulldog of Bergen, the Pride of New Jersey, you're everybody's hope, you're your kids' hero and the champion of my heart." It is among
the most moving moments of any film you will ever see. See it.
To find out more about Patrick J. Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at
COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Jul 5 08 11:28 AM
But the film belongs to Crowe, still the best synthesis of movie star and actor working today. His restraint and sad reluctance turns
Braddock from a too-good-to-be-true shining saint into an unshowy, introspective everyman. When Braddock is forced to go before the boxing bigwigs and beg
for money to keep his family afloat, you can almost hear the applause of the Academy Awards audience as Crowe sits in his little splitscreen box. His scenes
with Giamatti feel like a privilege to watch, and when theyre together, Cinderella Man transforms from a good film into a great one.
When Braddock is forced to go before the boxing bigwigs and beg for money to keep his family afloat, you can almost hear the applause of the Academy
Awards audience as Crowe sits in his little splitscreen box.
A Plunge in the boxing and in the hope.
By Martin Palmer
Special for Jornal de Braslia
The character you play is very determined. Do you identify yourself with him? Actors need to be so committed?
My determination is the passion for what I do. I am in a very privileged situation I work in a form of art very complicated and with people who know what
they are doing. So, although in the last years I have been in a situation, which I wish because of my determination, there were moments in my life when I
walked in the streets looking for a way of surviving. So, I experienced what is not having material goods, only a guitar. My determination, my passion is for
the narrative and I believe it is a very important part of the culture. My goal is to affect people in a way that when they go to the moves, for a time at
least, they forget all the things for which they are going through in their own lives and disappear in another age for a while.
Talk about James J. Braddock.
Jim Braddock had to make a decision even very young. Boxing was the best job to have at that time and he had the courage of doing this job. He was the best
and the most determined. But I never saw Jim Braddock as a man who lived only for the boxing. The boxing, for him, was a way of going out of a situation and,
then, he was after that. When he was young, he was in fact a boxer, not a ruffian, he was not a guy who had only a powerful punch. He developed that over the
time. Because of certain injuries, he had to go on, go ahead and finished the fight as soon as possible. And he was well succeeded in this for a while. But,
things began to not result well anymore. In 1929, he fought with a guy named Tommy Lochlan for the mid heavy weight championship, he had a boxing class in 15
rounds and this had affected his self-confidence and coincided with the Great Depression. Braddock was a very responsible young man and saved all his money.
He did not waste and even not live out of his standards.
He loses money in the Stock Exchange?
Yes. He lost something everybody told him to do at that time, what it was of investing in shares/stocks. He invested 85% of what he had in that fateful day,
in October 1929, and lost everything. The rest of his money was fastened in a cab company in Manhattan and, by the research we did, we know he needed more
than 3 months to go out of, what it took him to the bankruptcy sometimes. Then, the period of time we show, in a fast changing of clothe to another, its
already full of details and complications that could be, only by themselves, a movie. Suffice it to say, as we do in the movie, that things were bad. He did
not keep the pain he accepted it and tried to do the best for his family.
Australian boxer Kostya Tszyu was important to help you to portray the role? Did you ask him for advices?
Yes, I did. First, I attend to a Kostyas training with Angelo Dundee and Angelo said: Mate, you are going to see how it is. And Kostya entered at the gym and
the first thing he did to heat was jumping for 26 minutes try to do this one day and you will see how its difficult. Right after, he did 20 minutes of
climber, then he went to the sand bag for 30 minutes, and then to the underdog for more 30 minutes, following he did a series of exercises for 30 minutes,
shadow boxing for 30 or 45 minutes, jumped again, he did lifting with elbows stopped, in his back, that is how to lift your weigh by the elbows or taking out
the feet and he did sequences of 1, 2, 3 minutes and then of 3, 2, one minute. Try it. Its difficult. So, his hands were taped and he trained with 5 guys, 3
rounds. And Angelo said: If you have some another question, you can do it now (laughs). The most important of meeting Kostya is his knowledge, his experience
and his sincerity. I watched him, did some training with him, discussed some things, he showed me another ones and I was gone away. I trained with Angelo
during some months.
You hurt your shoulder during the training. Tell us how it was.
My shoulder went out of its place when we were doing fighting training and then it came back with so much strength that broke the bone of the shoulder. The
result was a surgery and a long term relationship with Errol Alcott, a physiotherapist of Australian Cricket team. He came to stay for 4 weeks and finished
to stay for 7 months. By luck, he had worked for more than 22 years with Australian Cricket team and had the license expired. So, he used all his license
period in a boxing movie in Toronto (laughs). When we came back to the training, after the surgery, I came back to the gym with Kostya and did a whole day of
training, all I had described before. And, when we were in the second series of 3 minutes of bending, with the legs stretched up, I let loose the legs and he
said: Russell, you are not so strong mentally. Then, I knew I had to endeavor.
The Great Depression is almost a character of the movie. In your opinion, which is the importance of this movie today?
The Great Depression is for sure a character of the movie. The villain is the poverty. Craig Bierko (world heavy weight championship) as Max Baer portrays a
villain that we focus for a while, but the poverty in general is a character. As to the importance of the movie today, I said that is very important to
remember to the Americans, now, that there is short time ago this abundance was not a rule of the society, there is short time ago people needed to get a
line to get food and only recently the structure of well social being was created. I think Americans should realize they were positioned for a good reason,
they are not there to be exploited. I also consider that its a good moment to remember the Americans the strength of their country is based in hard work of
their parents to grant to their sons needs, not in the colonialism.
Braddock was a warrior?
I think that anyone who enters in a ring using a short and faces another man knowing that the result of the night will be the public humiliation of one of
them has a great courage. If it is this courage needed to be a warrior, so is he. But its not a soldier of fortune or a soldier of a police cause in anyway.
He just fought for the well being of his family since from the first to the last fight as a professional.
Braddock was a truly American hero. Who would you say that its his contemporary?
In an American context, perhaps Lance Armstrong.
It has already been a while since Master & Commander. Could you talk about the break you did between the 2 movies and how fatherhood has changed you?
Am I different? (laughs). Being a father is simply the best thing I have experienced in life. And, if you did not go through this experience, you will not
know of what I am talking about.
This has changed the way you see your professional life?
My priorities changed. First, its the family. I was talking about this with my wife other day. She had come back home alone, arrived at home without me and
she felt herself incomplete. And I had the same feeling/sensation. I was going to New York and arrived at the hotel room, put the luggage and, normally, this
is the sign for you relaxing and being with yourself, preparing yourself for the work because the trip ended. But, now we are parents, we are not going to
feel self-sufficient because we are stronger as people, but more vulnerable. All of this is still much new. My son, Charlie, has only 17 months old and our
marriage has only 2 years. We are learning step by step and we know that the depth of our caress is growing and we realize that and we love it. Its a funny
thing: when the three of us are not together, there is a piece missed.
Do you have plans for having another son?
When Charlie is at a certain age and goes to school. If you want to know my opinion, I would have already a dozen, but its not only up to me (laughs). So, we
will see how we will work out, but I am sure that it will be not very good for Charles growing up in this strange world alone. I think it would be good for
his equilibrium and comprehension of the world if he has brothers and sisters (whispering), but dont tell to my wife.
Paul Giamatti said you only feel happy when you are acting. Is this true?
I dont know. I feel happy in so many other places. I feel happy to climb a hill and see the scenery (laughs). Paul sees me assuming responsibility in the set
and imagines why I do that, but its a natural thing.
You boxing view has changed?
Its necessary lots of courage for enter in a ring, probably the courage I would not be able to have in real life. I think there are some aspects of safe,
which now are included to the young, to the amateur categories till the golden globes, what defines boxing much more as sport than without the safety
conditions. I have respect for the people who face what they need to face for being boxers. I could be a little cynical as for the boxing as business, as for
some people who are involved in this business and to the lack of consideration with the fighters who supposedly must promote. James Braddock did not end as
drug addicted, an alcoholic or as lure of a restaurant in Las Vegas, he not ended dying mysteriously in jet plane accident with US$ 10 thousand in a paper
bag under his coat. If its not so, I would not have been interested in doing the role. It was his re-equilibrium to the normality that makes of him the
special person. Yes, he was world heavyweight champion, but he not had to wake up every day and prove that to the whole world. He followed his nose, seeing
his children grow up and the grandchildren born.
You said you always want to work with Rene Zellwegger. Why?
She is a wonderful actress. I met her in 1998, in a coffee shop in San Diego, and we talked about this project. Since the beginning, she said yes. I always
respected her as an actress. When she arrived at the set, she proved also to be a nice girl.
....the depth of our caress is growing.....
He's the pumping heart of a story that should be too good to be true but is actually too true to be really, really good.
Jul 5 08 12:40 PM
A Fight of Good Ones!
In Cinderella Man (The Fight for The Hope), Russell Crowe and Ron Howard tell the improbable (and almost collapsed) story of a winner.
By Andr Gordirro with interview of Rachel Clark/IFA
In Oscars ceremony realized this year, the comedy man Chris Rock opens his services as a host praising.
If you want Russell Crowe and all you can get is Collin Farrell, wait! I dont care if you making a movie about three weeks ago, you need to get Russell
Crowe. Cause Russell will do the research about three weeks ago, hell cut his hair like three weeks ago, hell walk like three weeks ago, hell talk like three
weeks ago, and youll close your eyes, and youll listen and go that sounds like three weeks ago! The joke gave to the presenter 80 Dollars that a playful
Crowe sent via check to Chris Rock. He said he loved Cuba Gooding Jrs job until seeing Boat Trip. Chris thought was with no money and gave him 80 Dollars. I
sent the same amount to Chris, telling him he would need the money for the support he gave me, said the actor.
Maybe this is the hour to Chris Rock give back the check to the New Zealand actor. His new movie, Cinderella Man, cine biography about a boxer of 30s, was a
box office flop, besides the praising reviews from the American Press. The production marked the reunion of Russell Crowe with the winner team behind 2001 A
Beautiful Mind: director/producer Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and screenwriter Akiva Goldman. Carved out as a movie for the Oscar besides of a trailer
impudently for the Academy, Cinderella Man would be released last Christmas, in time to compete this, what it didnt happen the movie was completely ignored
by the audience, distributed in an American summer which went through an unprecedented box office crisis. Its not rare an adult drama making success (and
going well in the running for the statuettes) in the popcorn season as recently examples as Erin Bronkovich and Seabiscuit. But Cinderella Man has already
begun the career with a knockout: premiered in June in USA in the 4th place, earning 18,3 million Dollars (it cost 88 million). Ron Howards sport drama ended
the career with 60 million in American box office and with the Oscar talk almost silenced.
Cinderella Man tells Jim Braddocks life, entitled by the Press Cinderella Man (so from it the original title of the movie) by his career being a fairy tale
in Cinderellas style.
Braddock, portrayed by Russell Crowe, was an amateur boxer from New Jersey of the 20s who provided the family thanks to the rings. When he broke the right
hand and insisted in fighting even so, his career went to by the board a fall which coincided with the advent of Great Depression, since the broke of New
York Stock Exchange in 1929. Then, with a good part of Americans of that time, the boxer had almost all his savings invested at the stock exchange. When the
system crashed, Braddock went together. Besides the money invested, he had a partnership in a cab company which has never recovered, says Crowe, showing that
he did such homework cited by Chris Rock.
With the crisis, Jim Braddock was obliged to change from his comfortable suburban house with the wife, Mae (Rene Zellwegers role), and the three kids to the
basement of a slum tenement. With no money to pay electricity, heating and food, the fighter swallowed the pride, entered to unemployed insurance program,
and got temporary jobs at the docks. As he had to maintain 5 bellies fed with 24 Dollars for month, he reached the limit of asking for money to the former
boxing managers, including his former manager and trainer Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti, brilliant as always). Seeing the friends situation, Gould got a fight for
Braddock which he won, using as secret weapon the left wrist, braced by the arm job in the docks, once he avoided using the weakly right hand. Since then,
the boxer got a victory after victory, till getting the chance of facing the dangerous champion of the heavyweight ones, Max Baer (Craig Bierko, disappeared
since The Thirteenth Floor), who had already killed 2 men in the ring.
Cinderella Mans climax happens, of course, in Jim Braddock versus Max Baer encounter. Held in 1935 in a crowded Madison Square Garden with 35,000 people, the
fight lasted 15 rounds and polarized the public opinion of that time, who cheered for the fairy tale had a happy end as the improbable Braddocks victory was
also the conquest of all before the Great Depression. Ron Howards father, a boxer aficionado, got hearing the fights transmission through the radio. He got
from the son the role of commentator of the legendary event.
Besides the movie paints Max Baer as the hero antagonist, Russell Crowe has another opinion about who is the villain of the story. Its the poverty, says the
New Zealander. And its important that a movie as Cinderella Man reminds the Americans that there is short time ago this abundance was not a rule of the day
and that people needed to get a line to eat. Its a good moment to remind them the strength of their nation is based in parents who put their kids as
priority, and not the colonialism. By the results of the box office, although, it seems that USA didnt want to hear the message.
To portray Jim Braddock, Russell Crowe went from the 103 kilos of his character in Master & Commander to the dried 80 of the boxer. Angelo Dundee, who
worked for 21 years with the biggest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, trained him. Dundee not only taught boxing to the protagonist, as he also served as
inspiration for Paul Giamatti making up Joe Goulds character. He passed me the
Knowledge, the phrases and all I needed to know about the sport, tells the Sideways actor. If Giamatti stayed in the observation, it was Crowe who sweated
the t-shirt. He avoided the lift of weighs, once it was not that way the fighters of the 30s prepared themselves, dedicating more time to the puncher bag and
to the sparring with another boxers.
In the movie, Crowe faces real fighters in the roles of famous ones from the past, as Art Binkowski (portraying Corn Griffin), Troy Amos-Ross (John Henry
Lewis) and Mark Simmons (Art Lasky). Unused to miss punches, the professionals of the ring several times got right full Russell Crowes head, what cost some
broken teeth. One of the scenes and the desperate Paul Giamattis reaction went to the final cut of Cinderella Man. The fighting sequences had with a pioneer
protection system in the cameras (involved in a sort of tire), which allowed an unprecedented sensation of spanking by the audiences part.
A Hell for the Nerves.
Since 1997 screenwriter Cliff Hollingsworth circulated through Hollywood with an adaptation of James Braddocks life. The text soon called Russell Crowes
interest that took it to Rene Zellweger. I talked to her in 1998, in a San Diego coffee shop. I had just finished The Insider, was bald and weighing 115
kilos. I dont know what she thought when she saw me in that appearance, but she never told another thing besides yes during all the process, even with the
passing of so many years and so many changes, remembers the actor. These years and changes implicated in several directors Penny Marshall, Billy Bob
Thornton, Lasse Hallstrm and even new protagonists rumored to the role, as Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck. And nothing of Jim Braddock getting a
life in the big screen.
After many years in the drawer, Cliff Hollingsworth screenplay returned to Russell Crowes hands at the time of A Beautiful Mind. The actor convinced Ron
Howard to considerate the project and asks Akiva Goldman to interfere in the text. Ron and Akiva dedicated time to find some sort of dirty in Braddocks past
a connection with the Mafia or that he had hand over the fight for he not being too much virtuous. They didnt find anything, besides the writer Jeremy
Schapp, who released a book about the boxer simultaneously to the film, affirms that Braddock spanked a policeman in a Police Department and had received
investments information from a known New York man from Mafia. The guy was not a Mother Theresa, says Schapp.
Cinderella Mans production began badly in the beginning: with few weeks of training, Russell Crowe dislocated the shoulder and needed to go to the surgery.
He remembers the bad moment: The shoulder went out of the place, and when it returned, it came with such strength that broke the bone of my shoulder. The
shootings were interrupted for seven weeks for the actor recovered from the surgery and did the physiotherapy. Even though, all the rest of the production
run the risk of losing his protagonist, once Crowe needed, at least, put in danger the shoulder recently operated every time he reached the ring. Known by
the contrariness, the star didnt make things easier to him in the scenes. It was a hell to the nerves. But which were the options? Not doing the movie?, says
Ron Howard. The lost time would cut the productions chronogram from eleven months to eight, what would do with Cinderella Man reached to the 2004 Oscar
season November and December with its conclusion made of any way, what could ruin its chances in the dispute for the statuette. Universal made the hard
decision of postponing the movie of June of this year.
Crowe was still the protagonist of more confusion involving the production one during the shootings, and other recently, in the releasing time. The New
Zealander, who has a justified bad fame of big fighter, fought with his private security man, Mark Carroll, because he had suggested the boss didnt talk to a
female extra in a pub in a Friday night. Both got to peace after the fight, which has as the high point a Crowes bite in Carroll. The other confusion got an
arrestment to the Gladiator star (and maybe a possible conviction with 7 years in jail): in a Monday right after the release of the movie, in June, Crowe
threw a hotel telephone at a concierges face. Without getting to talk with his wife in Australia, that is 10 hours ahead New York, the star got irritated,
discounted it at the employee and passed 8 hours behind the bars. I was trying to fulfill my obligations with my wife, warning her that I was going to sleep,
had not drank too much and, the most important, that I was alone, he excuse himself, saying that if he did not get the call, he would talk with the wife the
other day. At least she knew of his husband whereabouts by the news on TV all over the world. A sad end for the Cinderella Man.
Casting 2 x Director 1
Ron Howard gives elegance to Cinderella Man, but its from the actors that comes the blood of the movie.
By Isabela Boscov
In 1929, the Irish descendant James J. Braddock was at one step of becoming the world champion of the middle weight and, just five years later, he and his
family were less than one step of the absolute indigence. Braddock felt in disgrace because of a defeat, lost everything in the Great Depression, was sent
down from the boxing league and, with no job besides the occasional ones in New York docks, he saw himself reduced to ask for alms to ex (or former) friends.
In 1934, he entered in the ring for what it would be the last time, to be mashed by a heavyweight for 250 Dollars. By general surprise (and over all his), it
was Braddock, who mashed the opponent, giving the start to what the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald affirmed that it doesnt exist in American life the story of a
second chance, narrated with considerable fidelity in Cinderella Man (USA, 2005), which will be released this Friday in Brazil. A story, however, well at the
director Ron Howards taste, who brought other second chances to movies like Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind.
Howard is the most square/old fashioned of the moviemakers, for the good and for the evil. He has elegance, narrative domain and knows how to explore the
audiences emotions, what in the final fight is a sample of drama and brutality. But he is also predictable to the extreme in special in his bent for
focalizing what a plot has of edifying. Braddock, according to all reports, was a respectable father, a passionate husband and an honest man, and shows him
in his familys privation is crucial to understand with what despair he entered at the ring. But the director doesnt know how to make the connection or to
emphasize her lack between his characters facet and the fury with which he slaughtered adversaries as Max Baer who had almost the double of his size and had
already killed other 2 boxers with his punches. Only the milk for the children did not justify such motivation. By luck, Russell Crowe as Braddock, and Paul
Giamatti as his manager are there. In performances magnificently modulated, they smuggle to the movie the proof that the director has scrupulousness in
admitting: good father or not, a boxer is a predator. The smell of the milk could wake him, but to sniff blood is what that becomes him a beast.
Well, that's the trend in *ahem* journalism, isn't it? "The truth is boring."
When a hazy picture tells a story the truth can often be so boring
And isn't always as easy to believe
MOVIE REVIEW - CINDERELLA MAN
Analisa Chapman , Observer writer
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Finally, a movie to replenish the recent cinematic drought! It is probably just as well that Cinderella Man is off to a late start in Jamaican cinemas as it
is not exactly a summer blockbuster (but then again neither were the supposed summer blockbusters).
Don't let the title fool you though. Cinderella Man is no fluffy fairy tale as the delicate glass slipper is replaced with boxing shoes and gloves which
pack as much punch as the film itself.
Set within America's "Great Depression" and the heights of the boxing era, the film traces the real life trials and triumphs of boxer, James J
Braddock. In fact, Cinderella Man reunites Crowe with director Ron No stranger to the biopic (or fighting for that matter) actor Russell Crowe
creates a relatable and touching character behind the Jersey accent.Howard, producer Brian Glazer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, the dynamic combo
who formed 2001's Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind.
Another worthy combination is that of Crowe and Paul Giamatti (Sideways), who plays Braddock's manager Joe Gould. Sure, Rene Zellweger is fine as
Braddock's loving and worried wife, Mae, but it is Crowe and Giamatti who really steal the show. When Crowe unleashes the charisma of the 'working
class stiff', Giamatti counters with a quick tongue and sometimes unexpected zeal from the 'likeable lightweight'. The role is possibly
Giamatti's strongest performance to date. Even physically, the two men bear resemblance to their characters.
Outside of the ring, the film seems to have deliberately gone for darker lighting and shadows, although it is not as creatively used as in Million Dollar
Baby. In the ring, however, the real action comes to life. Alongside blow by blow commentary, punches and sound, creative camera work puts the audience right
in the middle of the bloody encounters. Each punch is felt not only because of its realistic impact, but also because the film's solid script can have
you rooting for the broken Braddock.
A story brought to the forefront and also penned by Cliff Hollingsworth, Cinderella Man is both a tough and touching tale. As
Arnold Schwarzenegger would probably put it, this 'cinderella man' is no "girly man" although he learns to battle pride as well as
heavyweight opponents. Round for round, the true life tribute is worth the ringside tickets.
The cast also features Craig Bierko as Max Baer, Bruce McGill as Jimmy Johnston and Conner Price, Ariel Waller and Patrick Louis respectively as Jay,
Rosemarie and Howard Braddock.
The years 1st masterpiece
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent
The Philippine Star 09/07/2005
Jim Braddock walks into a lounge, where a few of his old boxing cohorts are either busy making deals or are merely relaxing from the boredom of boxing
inactivity brought about by the Great Depression. Wearing the face of a man hungry from days of deprivation and dressed in tattered, two-day old clothes,
Braddock summons all his courage and swallows all his pride as he asks these men for a few loose change to add to the emergency relief he received from the
His eyes welling and his face full of shame, he walks into the middle of the parlor and begs for help. He puts down his cap, takes it out upside down and he
starts going around. The men start reaching into their pockets and drop into Braddocks hat, pennies, dimes and a few dollar bills.
Of the many memorable scenes in Cinderella Man, this one stands out for sheer poignancy.
This particular scene comes about a third into the movie and just for this alone, the price of admission is already considered earned and Russell
Crowe, the actor, has proven that surely he is the best actor of his generation. Hardworking and notorious for his temper, Crowe has the gift most actors
work their lifetime and yet cant master but yet in Crowe, it comes off as naturally as breathing and as powerful as the punches he pulls when he becomes Jim
Director Ron Howard has fashioned an underdog fighter formula into one rousing, engaging, touching and inspiring film.
Based on the astonishing true story of the fighter Jim Braddock who, during the Great Depression, lived with his wife and children in dire, below poverty
conditions, yet through sheer determination and willful pursuit of changing his luck managed to turn the fates and became the biggest boxing champion of the
era and inspired millions of Americans to have faith in themselves once more.
Among the sterling supporting cast, Rene Zellweger, who plays Braddocks wife, and the equally-gifted character actor, Paul Giamatti, give the most memorable
turns. Craig Bierko, who appears late in the movie as the boxer Max Baer, also turns in a menacing performance as Braddocks final opponent.
During the films tense climax, a small interspersed scene, set in a closet, helped underscore the biggest triumph of Braddocks career. In that scene, the
three Braddock children are found hiding and clustering in front of a radio and listening to their fathers fight. A triumph illustrated by the fact that in
the heralded scenes of this review, the primary reason why Braddock set all his pride on the side was to provide a home for his children, during a harsh
winter, with basic gas and electricity, which was cut off earlier and the children had to be sent away to relatives for their safety.
Braddocks story underscores another telling point: when one mans courage is driven by his love for his family, he can muster all his strength to
fight for his own space and deliver the promise to his family. This is the first masterpiece of the year!
Come the awards season, Crowe (life motto: act first and repent later) is a shoo-in. To see why, look no further than the scene where he goes cap in hand to
his former paymasters.
Jul 5 08 3:15 PM
I doubt contemporary women will have too much time for the scene where Gould and Braddock's wives decide that their other halves "have it much
harder than we do".
life motto: act first and repent later
Many of us 'contemporary' women are supporting ourselves and facing other challenges along the way
I want to take the opportunity to thank Sophie for all the goodies she 's been posting, very appreciated since I know that the translation must have been
so time consuming.
Thanks so very much
Un directo al corazn
Crowe se luce como James J. Braddock en la saga casi increble de un boxeador que renaci de la derrota.
A Straight One to the heart.
Crowe shines as James J. Braddock in the almost incredible saga of a boxer who was born again from the defeat.
Levantarse a los golpes = To rise at punches!
OK, it's just a review - but it fries my sensabilities - frail piece of womanhood that I am!!!
Jul 5 08 4:54 PM
Crowe is terrific here, in a part ideally fashioned for his patented blend of untamed testosterone and shiny-eyed vulnerability. His rather lumpy features
are attaining a new refinement as he ages; here, he has the rugged dignity of a young Robert Mitchum. Certain key moments when he's
bantering with co-star Paul Giamatti, interacting delicately with the child performers, or collecting himself in the dressing room before an onslaught of
post-fight press attention display an actor not nakedly hunting Oscar glory, but inhabiting his character with touching dedication.
The last time Ron Howard and Russell Crowe teamed up, the result was A Beautiful Mind, the sort of worthy film and Im nuts, me performance so beloved of the
As it was, while Howard picked up a little statue, Crowe missed out due, so rumour has it, to the fact that he physically attacked someone at the BAFTAs. Its
ironic then that hes now likely to win next time around for playing a famous brawler.
The Cinderella Man of the title is James J Braddock, a one-time heavyweight contender who, by the early 1930s, was washed-up, first by injury and then, like
much of the US population, by the Great Depression.
With no money and no career to speak of, Braddock is forced to take whatever work he can to hold his family together.
As things spiral ever downwards, Braddock gets an offer to replace an injured contender at Madison Square Gardens. Injured, old and out of training, Braddock
is a no-hoper. Hes just there for the cash. But somehow, in true fairytale fashion, he wins and reignites his career, carrying with him the hopes of an
entire underclass of people.
If Hollywood had created the story, youd write it off as far-fetched. Youd also be forgiven for assuming that Ron Howard would have soaked the whole thing in
Happily, save for a soundtrack that occasionally overdoes its twiddly Oirish-ness, Cinderella Man is a very good film indeed.
Crowe in this reviewers eyes has all too often delivered one-note performances but here hes utterly believable and quiet power. Its a Sean Penn-like subtle
and nuanced performance - which is about as high as high praise can get.
Theres good support too from Renee Zellwegger always convincingly thin enough to play a Depression-era Mrs Braddock and Paul Giamatti as Braddocks tireless
manager Joe Gould.
Cinderella Man is an effective snapshot of 1930s life and an inspirational tale. Hollywood at its most old-fashioned, to be sure, but also at its best.
Cinderella Man (12A)
By Mark Edwards
RON HOWARD and Russell Crowe, the director and star of A Beautiful Mind, team up again to tell the rousing story of a beautiful heart the
riches-to-rags-to-riches-again tale of boxer James J Braddock.
Braddock's fall from boxing's elite after a shoulder injury coincided with America's Great Depression of the 1920s.
His subsequent fight back to claim the World Heavyweight Championship galvanised a nation battered by poverty which saw his achievements as emblematic of the
chance of a way out for all of them.
It's a carefully crafted picaresque tale that has an unashamedly old-fashioned feel to it. The ever schmaltzy Howard puts in plenty of period deprivation
to temper his saccharine tendencies and with excellent turns from his leads produces easily his most satisfying film to date.
Crowe's less than heroic off-screen behaviour may have thrown the fight in US cinemas the publicity after he threw a telephone at a hotel employee in a
fit of pique effectively nixed any chance of massive Stateside takings but on screen he is once again superb.
Howard presents Braddock as little short of a saint but Crowe at least makes him a very reluctant one. You can almost see his toes curl up when forced into
the spotlight as the public adulation grows. He also conveys the sense of broken pride when he is forced to queue for work on the docks after a dire boxing
performance halts his career.
Giving excellent support is Paul Giametti on a role after stellar turns in American Beauty and Sideways - who gets every last drop out of the potentially
predictable role of Braddock's long-time manager and friend Joe Gould.
He is by turns comic and affecting and is proving himself one of the best character actors of his generation.
Renee Zellwegger does little beyong simperin and giving those lemon peel squints of hers as Braddock's wife Mae but she does have a touching chemistry
with Crowe making you really root for their happiness.
The fight scenes are not the big pay-off as in a Rocky film, but they are still well done. The press bash out their reports on typewriters ring-side as a
bulked-up Crowe receives and delivers some crushing blows.
Probably the most affecting boxing moment arrives before a punch has been thrown in the World Heavyweight bout with title holder Max Baer (Craig Bierko), who
had killed two of his previous opponents.
The crowd greet Braddock's entrance into the ring with complete silence, a sign of the reverence they have for him and what he stands for.
It was sentiment such as this that moved writer Damon Runyan whose characters inspired the musical Guys And Dolls - to call Braddock The Cinderella Man.
Howard and Crowe could well make their comebacks at next year's Oscars ceremony. ****
Braddock's fall from boxing's elite after a shoulder injury .......
Crowe in this reviewers eyes has all too often delivered one-note performances
A sugary knock-out
07 September 2005
BEEFCAKE actor Russell Crowe reteams with A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard for the inspirational story of boxer Jim Braddock.
CINDERELLA MAN (12A) is the riches to rags to riches tale of everyman Braddock who carried the hopes and dreams of the Depression-hit American public on his
shoulders during his fairytale return to the top.
Yes, it's the kind of obvious sweeping epic that makes it the first contender for Oscar recognition, and with its winning one-two punch of great acting
and accomplished directing, it more than deserves the attention.
Crowe is perfectly cast as the common man whose heart is a powerful as his right hook and there's fine support from the likes of Renee Zellweger as
Braddock's supportive wife Mae and the always watchable Paul Giamatti, as the put-upon manager Joe Gould.
Similarly Howard flexes his directorial muscles with style, managing to turn a fluffy feel-good story - the real-life template for every boxing movie - into
a nimble heavyweight which punches well above its weight.
It may well be too sweetly perfect to go the distance to classic status - a fate shared by Howard's Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind - but this is
knock-out old-school entertainment.
Rating: 4 stars
I guess he hasn't seen too many of Russell's films.
Jul 5 08 6:04 PM
Which one do you suppose he's talking about????
Given the film's manipulation of Braddock as a soup-kitchen saint, Crowe does remarkably well to remind us that he's also a human being.
That the virtues he embodies in Jim Braddock - humility, gentleness, soft-spoken decency - seem to be the very ones so absent in Crowe himself (as
far as we can tell)"> is a tribute to his acting, for this man is vividly
present to us. In the scene where Braddock hits rock bottom and has to beg for money from his professional confrres, the pathos is so overwhelming you feel
the actor almost had to humble himself to make it real. But then his willingness to get inside a role has long been evident, and whether as Napoleonic
seadog, neo-Nazi skinhead or New Jersey prizefighter he projects an absolute command of the screen
Her passionate conversation jumps quickly from her grief about the war in Iraq to growing up with abstract ethnic sounds in suburban Melbourne, the
"big soul" of Russell Crowe that should be protected rather than prosecuted , films as global campfire stories and the need to appreciate
Jul 5 08 7:09 PM
Russell Crowe is outstanding in Ron Howard's moving study of a real-life boxing hero in the Depression
Sunday September 11, 2005
Ron Howard's whole life has been spent in the great family of showbusiness, as son of an acting couple, child star and juvenile performer (most memorably
in TV's Happy Days) and, finally, as successful director. And families - threatened and separated sometimes, but always reunited - have been prominent in
his work and invariably celebrated. This has led to charges of cosiness, sentimentality and conformity in an era that finds domestic ties unduly burdensome
and often uses 'family values' as a term of contempt.
Many of Howard's virtues (technical polish of a Spielbergian sort, strong narrative, an affirmation of human decency) and some of his vices (a certain
glibness, an underlining of the obvious) are on display in his immensely likable, often very moving new picture, Cinderella Man, a celebration of
Irish-American heavyweight boxer and quintessential family man, James J Braddock.
The movie begins in 1928 with 23-year-old Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) returning to his pleasant, detached frame house in New Jersey, his loving wife Mae
(Renee Zellweger) and three small kids with a purse of $850 he won that night at Madison Square Garden. The camera pans left from a dressing table bearing
his winnings in a silver clip and his wife's jewellery and moves along the floral wallpaper that fades to black before arriving at a table bare except
for a crudely made dental plate in a dreary tenement with bare walls.
Four years have passed during this shot and the Depression has taken its toll. Braddock has lost his savings, can scarcely get $30 a bout and then has his
licence taken away after fighting with a broken hand.
Work is short on the New Jersey docks and arbitrarily assigned and Jim is threatened with his starving children being handed over by their devoted mother to
more prosperous relatives. The ultimate humiliation comes when he goes cap in hand to the gathering place of fight promoters, begging for the money to pay
his utility bills.
Then, in 1934, his old manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), also facing penury but desperately keeping up middle-class appearances, gets him a one-off fight
at the Garden, filling in after a last-minute cancellation. He's expected to lose to a promising newcomer, but he scores a surprise knockout. Because the
fight is on the lower half of a card the night Max Baer humiliated world champion Primo Carnera, his performance attracts attention.
Gould persuades a cynical promoter to exploit the publicity generated by this underdog ('We both know the name of the game and it isn't
pugilism') and two fights later Braddock is an unlikely contender for the world title now held by Baer, the strongest puncher of his generation, a man
who had killed two opponents. As we know, Braddock won.
Damon Runyon coined the term 'Cinderella Man' to describe the fairytale nature of this comeback, and later wrote: 'In all the history of the
boxing game, you'll find no more human interest story to compare with the life narrative of James J Braddock.' The film is not so much Raging Bull
meets Angela's Ashes, as Seabiscuit with a gumshield on its teeth instead of a bit between them.
Like the great horse, Braddock became an emblematic, inspirational hero for the downtrodden and unemployed, the insulted and injured of the Depression. And
in the exemplary conduct of his life both before and after he won the title, he was worthy of the devotion they showed as they gathered in bars and churches
and homes to follow his fights on the radio.
Excellent as always, Crowe plays Braddock with simple dignity, as a man without guile, in contrast to another man of essential decency, his manager,
Joe Gould, played by the admirable Paul Giamatti as both sly and kind, inspirational and manipulative. After Pearl Harbor, the pair volunteered together for
A true believer in the American Dream, Braddock thought all would come well in the end for the nation, especially after the election of Roosevelt. A friend
of Braddock's, a fictional character called Mike Wilson (Paddy Considine), thinks otherwise. Mike is a Wall Street broker wiped out and reduced to
working on the docks alongside the boxer. He simultaneously takes to drink in despair and turns to radical politics in hope of revolutionary change. He ends
up dead, killed by police in a demonstration, but does inspire Braddock to make a defiant speech against capitalism to the exploitative figures behind the
The fights are excellently managed by Howard and his director of photography, Salvatore Totino, who lights them in the style of the great, early-20th-century
boxing painter George Bellows, and uses different lenses to make the ring look alternately like a vast arena and a claustrophobic box from which there is no
These fights are as tough, varied and physically exhausting to the spectator as any I've seen. But the unflawed goodness of Braddock makes him less
interesting as a dramatic character than the boastful, self-destructive, dislikable Jake La Motta as played by Robert De Niro. He is what another New Jersey
scrapper, Marlon Brando's Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, might have been if his brother Charlie hadn't sold him out and given him the one-way
ticket to Palookaville.
Cinderella Man is that very rare thing, a serious boxing movie in which the protagonist is a stranger to tragedy or is at least untouched by the tragic sense
of life which the pugilist hero embodies. In this sense, Howard's film is nearer to the Rocky series. Fortunately, it has a wider social and historical
context and is devoid of the triumphalism and narcissism that disfigures the Stallone pictures.
"... It may sound a bit corny, but strangely I found myself believing in it. This is not only because of the robustness and charm of the performances,
but also because the rest of the film provides the intrigue the central characters lack.
Cinema that is pure, direct and simple
By Subhash K. Jha, Film: "Cinderella Man"; Cast: Russel Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giametti; Direction: Ron Howard; Rating: ****
Some films are fated to accomplish greatness by just being their natural self. "Cinderella Man" is one such rarity.
It doesn't try to be a profound or dramatic biographical epic about real life boxer Jim Braddock. It just lets the character grow naturally until
we're looking, not at one of Hollywood's most accomplished actors playing Braddock, but at Braddock himself coming alive, claiming our attention in
ways that are exceptionally endearing and moving.
Set during the Great Depression in America, the film is anything but depressing. Check out the sequence where Braddock, out of favour as a boxer and
on the brink of bankruptcy, goes to a posh sports club to beg for a relatively small sum of money so his children aren't sent away to a welfare home.
Here the magic of cinema, fully functional in every frame, is alchemised in the magic of the human condition as depicted by actors who forget to act.
A sequence such as the above is rare for its sublime sentimentality as well as the tonal control. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino penetrates into dark rooms
as though they are wombs. Hence, a minor masterpiece is born.
This isn't the first time that director Ron Howard has collaborated with the astonishingly self-effacing Russell Crowe for a biographical epic (they did
a far superior job of it in "A Beautiful Mind" . Nor is this the first film
chronicling the rise fall and rise of a boxer. (ed: after reading this glowing review of CM, and seeing this remark re: ABM, I wonder what the review to
ABM would look like, whew! LOL!)
Martin Scorcese's "Raging Bull" where Robert de Niro played a real-life boxing champ clamped its narrative tentacles on audiences. The approach
in "Cinderella Man" is far gentler, and hence far more persuasive.
You cannot escape the benign ambience that Howard creates around the family and professional life of the protagonist. Some cinematic clichs (why does the
hero's adversary in the boxing ring have to be mean and sadistic?) seep into the sublime story, but cause no damage to its inviolable mood of temperate
If a lot of the moments between Braddock and his devoted wife come alive it's not just because the director knows how to hold an emotion in
place. It's also to do with the unstated emotions between Russell Crowe and Rene Zelleweger.
The two are so skilled as husband and wife you wonder if they played the same roles in some other life without the camera switched on!
Not surprisingly it's the domestic scenes which transmit a brilliantly burnished energy. Scenes at the dining table with the kids barely getting enough
to eat are food to your soul. Such sequences wrench your heart.
Yes, this is cinema so pure, direct and simple, you begin to doubt its raison d'etre.
Why another boxing film so soon after Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby"? For the answer to that, just peep into Russell
Crowe's eyes where you see a whole ethos and era of emotions conveying feelings that go way beyond the boxing arena.
Even though the boxing sequences are deftly performed, you keenly observe Braddock's conduct out of the ring, with his wife and children and with his
supportive agent (Paul Giamatti).
By the end of the beautifully crafted tale, you aren't really looking at the predictable victory in the ring. Your eyes are set much beyond the
visuals looking at lives that rise above their fate to claim a grace and dignity that cinema offers to those who have the vision.
By the end of the beautifully crafted tale, you aren't really looking at the predictable victory in the ring. Your eyes are set much beyond the visuals
looking at lives that rise above their fate to claim a grace and dignity that cinema offers to those who have the vision.
Here the magic of cinema, fully functional in every frame, is alchemised in the magic of the human condition as depicted by actors who forget to act.
A sequence such as the above is rare for its sublime sentimentality as well as the tonal control.
Although the actor is said to have undergone extensive training that led to a body reshape, it doesnt look that way to me.
Jul 5 08 7:43 PM
That's why when sometimes I hear actors denigrate the importance of what they do, I hear Russell in my head, stressing how much of a privilege it is to
work on such a grand scale.
Take it on the chin
Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger's latest offering was a flop in the States, much to the amazement of America's studio bosses. Michael Walsh checks
out whether he can find its killer punch
By Michael Walsh
16 September 2005
CINDERELLA MAN (12A, 144mins) ****
Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Paddy Considine, Bruce McGill, Connor Price, Ariel Waller, Patrick Louis
It had been mooted as the first of the heavyweight Oscar contenders.
Its star was being hailed as a front-runner in the Academy Awards Best Actor stakes.
It's an uplifting tale, all about a real-life American hero.
And the man at the helm is one of the most successful and populist directors working in the States today.
So just why was Cinderella Man such a flop at the US box office?
It's this question that has had studio bosses on the other side of the Atlantic scratching their heads to the point of distraction over the past few
And after spending two- and-a-half hours in the company of Crowe, Zellweger, Giamatti and co, I've got to say I share in their confusion.
For Cinderella Man is a hugely enjoyable, well-acted, genuinely moving crowd- pleaser of a movie that packs a mighty punch right from the start and
will have the audience on the edge of their seat the whole way through.
That's an impressive achievement by director Ron Howard and his cast, given that many people will already know the ending before they enter the cinema
(and if you don't, I think you can probably guess).
Cinderella Man tells the story of a true American legend, boxer James J Braddock (played by Crowe).
Once a world title contender, his career has long been on the wane, the final blow a series of injuries that see him suffer defeats to even the most modest
Skip ahead a few years and our hero has lost almost everything, as have many of his fellow citizens, as the country enters the desperate days of the 1930s
After his boxing licence is suspended following his latest shambles of a bout, Braddock is forced to stand at the dock gates in the often forlorn hope of
being picked for a day's labouring to put food on the table for wife Mae (Zellweger) and their three children.
Just as the family seems to have hit rock bottom, his former manager, Joe Gould (Giamatti), offers Braddock a small chink of light.
At the last moment, the number two contender for the heavyweight crown is without an opponent for his latest match.
The promoters desperately need someone to stand in and Gould comes to Braddock.
Neither expect the has- been to win, but Braddock is overjoyed at the chance to pick up some much-needed money, as well as the prospect of bowing out of
boxing on a high note - in a sell-out match against one of the current scene's heavy hitters.
And so, guess what?
Yes, he wins. And guess what happens in the following fight against the number one contender? He wins.
And guess what happens in the big showdown with much-feared world heavyweight champion Max Baer (Bierko), who has killed two of his previous highly-ranked
Even if you do know the outcome though, it's amazing how tied up you get in Cinderella Man - and that's the sign of a good movie.
Howard's film may well be undemanding, fairly predictable and as schmaltzy as a Mills and Boon tearjerker - yet it's easily still one of the
best mainstream dramas of the year.
Partially, that's down to the cast. Sure, Zellweger is a bit annoying, though it's hard to know how she could do that much better with her one- note
Crowe, however, is near the top of his game, acting as much with his eyes as with his fists to give us a hero to believe in.
It's Giamatti, though, who is the real heavyweight here. Fresh from the triumph of Sideways, he is a subtly complex foil to Crowe in an absolutely
But perhaps the highest praise of all should go to the director.
For Howard takes a bit of Rocky, a bit of The Champ, a bit of Seabiscuit and a whole clump of other cinematic clichs and mixes them all up - and comes up
with a movie to believe in.
Certainly, even despite its failure Stateside, studio bosses still believe in it.
For they are, apparently, set to take the highly unusual step of re-releasing the movie there in the run- up to Christmas.
And so, Cinderella Man may yet still go the Oscars ball.
It definitely deserves to be a contender.
The partnership between movies and boxing has already given lots and great movies. From Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese, to Million Dollar Baby by Clint
Eastwood, last movie to win the Oscar of best movie. And it ahs already created some unforgettable characters, from the rough Rocky (which first movie also
won the Oscar for Best Picture) to the touching Billy Elliot (who fights boxing and practice ballet). Almost all of them bet in the fight as an agent of
transformation, generally of the soul, but over all, of the society. Boxing is, in American movies, slightly as the soccer in Brazil: a way of the poorest
being rich. It is in this line that Ron Howard and Russell Crowe work in Cinderella Man (USA, 2005). Its about the biography of boxer James Braddock, who
went from heavens to the hells with the arrival of The Great Depression, in the beginning of the 30s, and came back to heaven thanks to his jabs and hooks.
Typical movie to the Oscar (Howard won one of Best Director and Crowe for Best Actor in their other partnership, A Beautiful Mind, of 2001), the movie brings
to the surface the matter: the dramatic genre in the ring has still wind or, with the thousand round near, could it be knockout?
The eternal symbol of the Fight!
By Jos Elias Flores Jr.
Publicist, editor of the site www.ringue.com.br
Cinderella Man portrays the story of boxer James J. Braddock. Ordinary man, fathers family and boxer of medium talent, who ended by building effectively a
story of fairy-tale a little unusual at anytime.
After becoming in one of the most detachable challengers to the heavy weight title in the end of the 20s, Braddock, as a good part of America, broken down.
Or close to. Chastised by the intrinsic harshness to the boxing, an eminent decadency, physical problems and American Great Depression in the 30s, the boxer
began a descendent trajectory, having between July 1929 and May 1933, lost 20 of 31 fights. Braddock and his trainer were proud of the fact of the boxer has
never been knockout. Fighting for some change, his fights had an interval of only a week, even though it occurred some cuts and injuries. Unbelievable.
But really unbelievable was his reaction. Searching desperately any job and some nickels that could give keep and dignity to his family, Braddock found out
inside himself a strange willpower, still unknown. It was this that took him to, known as finished after being 9 months inactive and repetitive injuries in
one of his hands, comes back to the highest category to defeat the so far favorite Corn Griffith by knockout.
Right after, Braddock still defeated the future world heavyweight champion John Henry Lewis. And also who should enter in the ring, next, against the world
heavyweight champion Max Baer, the strong Art Lasky.
Having defeated the main challengers to the title, the chance now was his. The same Braddock who fought for a handful of Dollars only some months before to
appease the stomach of his children and warm the little hovel where he lives paying the delayed heating bill, he had now his Cinderellas chance, of becoming
in the king of the heavy weights.
Two boxers had already died after being knockout by Baer. Despised by the specialists, the doubt was in which round Braddock would fall and the big worry was
not exactly with the result of the fight, but with his life. Would it be him the third to be killed?
Cinderella Man is a movie about boxing. It portrays once more the re-known symbolism inside the sport and, mainly, what Braddock represented for a defeated
people, outraged and for some many times wretched as in USA of that time.
Obedience to the Christian and American spelling book.
By Paulo Ricardo de Almeida
Cinderella Man is but nothing the millionth version of Passion of Christ, in which the suffering and messianic boxer James Braddock, is the inspiration to
the enfeebled pos Depression America, which, besides of all injustices it suffers, it needs to maintain, as its model, subservient and coward regarding to
the well-to-do class.
The movie is Christian and American, because it believes in the idea that built in USA. Two sequences are representatives: in the first, Braddock admonishes
his son for having steal food; in the second, the wretched ones join themselves at the church for praying by his champion against the assassin fighter Max
Baer. In one side, the faith in the right of the property, in the individualism and in the countrys institutions; at the other side, the faith of, for the
excluded ones, the salvation is in the identification process with the hero who sacrifices himself for them, in a way that, even without bread, but with
circus, forget of the fights for their rights. The moviemaker contra points the boxers solitaire battles to Mike Wilsons participation, active in the
syndicated movement, but hard drinker with family issues, once he intends to disqualify the politic acts and speeches of the protagonists best friend.
Ron Howard aspires to take out the politics meaning of the narrative. The initial sequences of Cinderella Man cut from Braddocks good life before 1929 to the
Depression s privation, omitting the economic mechanisms that took USA to the bankruptcy. Criticizing American capitalism is to be beside the point, as well
as revolting against those ones who profit from the misery: with the son near to the death, Jim Braddock humiliate before the boxing commission, asking for
alms irritates his habit of always asking for apologies. Although he says he cannot face enemies he does not see (the responsible for the crisis), the hero
is up to fight in the ring for his family.
This time, Cinderella Man disowns the collective awareness proposed by Wilson and embraces Braddocks individual fight, as it intends to dislocate the
tensions of the society to the safety of the boxing ring, where everybody is reduced to spectators of the man who, by his own effort, becomes world champion
and fit himself to the community that had turned him out.
Exponent of the competitiveness of American worker, Jim Braddock waits, passive as a Christian lamb, but with the benevolence of the center of the
powerfulness. For the hero, the adversaries are not the directing/leader class, the crisis, the unemployment, the injustices, but Max Baer. While Braddock
fights for the family, Baer does it for the fame and for the sex. That is to say, we are before of a melodramatic process of sanctify the good guy and
demonizing the bad guy: if one saves, the other lavishes; if the first one is dedicated and humble, the second one is guided by the ambition and by the
arrogance; if the challenger is Catholic, the champion that announces his death is Jewish (the movie appeals, in a certain way, to the anti-Semitism).
Cinderella Man, lastly, only reworks the saga of the underdog who returns happy to the society that despises him. Its the epilog of the movie, which shows
how James Braddock became a useful citizen, respected and docile, always docile, as a little lamb.
Jul 6 08 9:03 PM
As Braddock, Crowe does much but never too much. During the last scene of the film, Crowe kisses Dundee's head whose reply is said to have been : "
You're the number 16". That means the 16 th world champion he has trained. Who could say better ?"
Seizing on the role , Russell Crowe gives a heart-rending humanity to this strong man deprived from his boxing gloves and whose fights are now only virtual.
As a modern gladiator, he fills his performance with hold-in-check strength and quivering humility . Flouting the family melodrama, he turns it nearly into a
real-life documentary. He is cold to the tip of his eyelashes. When he his punched he isn't faking. The mountain of muscles he is fighting will kill him,
that's as plain as the nose on your face! Ron Howard is avoiding any showy direction: no double-looping with camera! And he is right: at the end,
we're standing on our seats, crowing with delight ! "
In a few words: "Ron Howard poaches on Franck Capra's territory and give us the humanistic story of a boxing champion tightened in the net of the
Great Depression .A very classical film completely transcended by Russell Crowe's terrific performance."
A very classical film completely transcended by Russell Crowe's terrific performance."
....although Russell himself is likely to get snubbed (or so they say).
Spectator : Not just about boxing
First posted 00:04am (Mla time) Sept 22, 2005
By Al S. Mendoza
Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on Page A18 of the September 22, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
I'VE JUST SEEN THE BEST PICTURE OF the year.
That's the way it is to me.
"Cinderella Man" may not end up as Hollywood's best film this year. But to me, it is. I even rate it as one of the best films of all time
alongside such classics like "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane," "Sound of Music," "Dead Poets Society,"
"Godfather," "Fiddler on The Roof" and "Scent of a Woman."
Ron Howard has given Steven Spielberg a fight for the best director of the year derby.
That's the way it is to me.
Sure "War of the Worlds" is superb but, alas, only in pyrotechnics--Spielberg's forte.
In "Cinderella Man," Howard is at his best. He's even better--very much better, I tell you--than Clint Eastwood in Eastwood's "Million
Eastwood won his second Oscar director award last year for "Million Dollar Baby." He deserved it. OK, the film did not have much competition but,
it was, more importantly, poetry from beginning to end.
But "Cinderella Man" is more than that, though.
The film is Picasso the cubist, a Paganini violin, Pavarotti doing Nessun Dorma.
Some didn't like the ending of "Million Dollar Baby."
With "Cinderella Man," nothing's wasted. Everything's in place. Picture-perfect. There's never been a film as beautiful as this one.
Russell Crowe is my best actor of the year.
Renee Zellwegger is my best actress of the year.
Ron Howard is my best director of the year.
If "Cinderella Man" doesn't win the Oscar's best picture award, fine. It won't be a defeat, even as it wouldn't be my first defeat,
I picked "I Am Sam" a couple of years ago to win but "Training Day" won.
I picked Sean Penn of "I Am Sam" best actor but Denzel Washington of "Training Day" won.
I got it right with "Gladiator" and Russell Crowe a while back.
You win some, you lose some.
Maybe, I am biased with "Cinderella Man" because it's a film about boxing?
Subconsciously, I might have been carried away by the poignant story of heavyweight James J. Braddock in "Cinderella Man." As James J.
Braddock, Russell Crowe was in his usual element.
But when is Russell Crowe not in his best?
None. In fact, before I saw "I Am Sam," Russell Crowe was my choice of best actor in the film, "A Beautiful Mind." This Marlon Brando of
his generation is miles ahead of the pack.
Russell Crowe is Humphrey Bogart forty, fifty, years ago.
Russell Crowe is Dustin Hoffman thirty, thirty-five, years ago.
Russell Crowe is Robert De Niro twenty, twenty-five, years ago.
Russell Crowe is Al Pacino fifteen, twenty, years ago.
And, yes, Renee Zellwegger. She loses the best actress race, I say it'd be a shame. As Russell Crowe's wife in "Cinderella Man," Renee
Zellwegger has outdone herself. If she had you smitten in "Chicago," you'd fall for her totally in "Cinderella Man."
The "Cinderella Man" is a true story. That's as far as I can go. I hate squealing on a film's plot. Even when I was still reviewing films
some years back, I never did that even just for once. Crazy. A writer tells his/her readers what the movie is all about, that's destroying the thrill
reserved mainly to a moviegoer.
The trick is, through the years, I just tell my readers either to see or not to see a film.
So I command you now. Go catch "Cinderella Man" at Rockwell's Power Plant in Makati. It's so good a film it's showing in two Rockwell
Watching it will make you fall in love more with a boxer than boxing.
You might even wind up treating Manny Pacquiao's exploits as midget.
* * *
Plot packed with punch
Des Partridge reviews CINDERELLA MAN (M)
DIRECTOR Ron Howard, reunited with his A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe, draws on real-life events for another of his beautifully crafted movies that
provides rousing entertainment.
If we didn't know the facts of Depression-era New Jersey boxer Jim Braddock's comeback from obscurity to become the world heavyweight champion, the
story that unfolds could be dismissed as fanciful Hollywood drama instead of a real-life fairytale.
The knowledge that events depicted on screen mainly did happen adds to the power of the uplifting story, written by first-time screenwriter Cliff
Hollingsworth, a Braddock biographer, and A Beautiful Mind Oscar-winner, Akiva Goldsman.
Howard draws on solid performances and the human drama to sustain an almost three-hour movie that is refreshingly free from special effects and
The director, known for his love of movies, has made a big, old-fashioned crowd-pleaser, reminiscent of the quality bio-pics that were a staple of the studio
production lines in cinema's golden era.
For Gladiator Crowe, who inhabits his roles in a way no other actor of his generation can, this is another inspired choice that leaves no doubt as to
who is starring here. Watch the scene where Braddock has to front posh members of a gentleman's club begging for a handout, and you are left in awe of
Crowe's superb talent.
He's given able support from Paul Giamatti (Sideways) as his dedicated manager, Joe Gould, while Renee Zellweger has a more stock role as Braddock's
concerned and loyal wife, Mae.
It is unfortunate timing that Cinderella Man has arrived with memories of Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby still fresh in the minds of
most moviegoers. But despite the square ring and boxing themes that are central to both movies, they are distinctively different.
Grown-ups who tend to shy away from the mass of instantly forgettable teen-themed American movies should respond to the maturity of Howard's offering.
Braddock's promising ring career is curtailed by bad luck and an injury, and, as the Depression begins to affect American lives, he's forced to take
casual work on the wharves to provide for Mae and their three young children.
But while Braddock has disappeared from public view, Gould has been working behind the scenes, and gets the battler a one-off fight at Madison Square Garden
that will provide some much-needed cash for the proud Braddock who has had to go on the dole.
The fight, with the power of Braddock's formerly weak left hook now boosted by his wharf duties, becomes a turning point in Braddock's life. His
comeback leads to writer Damon Runyon labelling the former "Bulldog of Bergen" the "Cinderella man".
His injury-plagued career is revived, and he's set for a shot at the world title held by marauding Max Baer (Craig Bierko, best known as a Broadway
Baer already has killed two boxers, and Braddock appears set to become his next victim.
The fight scenes are exhausting, and even those aware of the story's ending should find the suspense of the title fight, which unfolds over
half-an-hour, near unbearable. A knockout.[
by Ann Demarco
FILM COMPETITION: WIN CINEMA TICKETS WITH DI-VE
Friday, 23 September, 2005
Star Rating: * * * * *
Cinderella Man was the nickname of a boxer named James J Braddock, whose story is told in the movie. Set in New York, the film opens in 1929 when Braddock
was at the top of his game, moving towards a championship title. A series of injuries -- most importantly a broken hand -- and bad luck cost him his career
and the money he had made.
The Wall Street crash made him a poor man, and his injuries led to him being struck off as a boxer, because of the poor fights he was fighting. He ends up
desperately trying to keep his family together by working on the docks whenever he can, because during the Depression in the States there wasn't a lot of
Then one day his manager and friend Joe Gould manages to get him a fight, and suddenly Braddock is back in the game and grabbing onto his second chance to
make something of himself and take care of his family.
This is a good movie, made great by the superb performances of Russell Crowe as Braddock and Paul Giamatti as Gould. And also by the edge of your
seat, heart stopping excitement of the final boxing match.
Crowe portrays Braddock as a decent, family loving man, whose desperation at his inability to provide for his family is clear in his face. There's talk
of Oscar for Crowe once again, and I can't imagine how it would be possible for him not to be nominated at least. And the same goes for Giamatti, who
almost steals the show away from Crowe, which is saying a lot.
Renee Zellweger does a good job in a supporting role as Braddock's loving wife, but I find her so irritating that I couldn't really appreciate her.
Luckily it's not a big part, so it's not enough to ruin the movie for me. As for director Howard, he does a wonderful job with the fight sequences --
not easy, considering that boxing is hardly my favourite sport, but I was still breathless with every punch thrown. He develops the story slowly, but keeps
you involved throughout, and as I said, the performances are so outstanding I think it would be hard not to be impressed.
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Russell Crowe - James J Braddock
Renee Zellweger - Mae Braddock
Paul Giamatti - Joe Gould
Craig Bierko - Max Baer
Paddy Considine - Mike Wilson
Running time: 144 minutes
Jul 6 08 10:03 PM
The Weekend Australian
Edition 5 - All-round ReviewSAT 24 SEP 2005, Page 022
Crowe packs real punch
By David Stratton
Cinderella Man (M) * * *
WHEN I was about nine years old, I won my school flea-weight boxing championship only because my opponent fortuitously went down with mumps at just the right
time. Ever since then I've steered clear of the sport, which is second only to bullfighting on my list of unpleasant activities. It goes without saying
that the boxing movie isn't my favourite genre.
It's interesting, though, how many fine boxing movies have been made. Most of them are disapproving of the sport: films such as Champion and The Set-Up,
both made at the end of the 1940s, explored the corruption that lurks at the surface of the fight game; the bitterest of all boxing movies, The Harder They
Fall (1956), ends with Humphrey Bogart -- in his final film -- calling for the sport to be banned, ``if it takes an act of Congress to do it''.
On the other hand, masterworks such as Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004) pungently explore the
horror of the sport and, at the same time, its attractions. So, too, does Ron Howard's Cinderella Man, a true Depression-era story about an American hero
who falls from grace and is given an extraordinary second chance.
James J. Braddock was, if Howard's film is an accurate depiction of his life, a quite amazing man, and it's astonishing that his story hasn't
been made into a film before this. Frank Capra would seem to have been the obvious director to embrace this kind of working-class hero saga; the very title
sounds Capra-like, and it's no surprise that it was given to Braddock by none other than that chronicler of Broadway's guys and dolls, Damon Runyon,
who provided the stories for more than one Capra movie.
In 1928, Braddock -- played by Russell Crowe in some of his best work on screen so far -- was a successful minor fighter with a loyal wife,
Mae (Renee Zellweger), and four children who lived in a neat suburban house and whose future looked relatively rosy.
Five years later, wiped out by the crash of 1929, Braddock was destitute, living with his family in a shabby cold-water flat, unable to pay for power and
other necessities, unable to work as a boxer any more because his last fight, with his hand broken in three places, was so pathetic that his licence was
The young Irish-American's confidence has now been completely eroded; in his own eyes, and in the eyes of his peers, if not of his family, he's a
failure. But his inherent decency never abandons him. When one of his sons steals a salami, he gives him a lecture about honesty and makes him return it, and
when one of the children is taken ill and there's no money for medicine, he swallows what's left of his pride and goes begging at the club of old
boxing buddies, including his former manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti).
That's the lowest point in Braddock's life. Joe manages to get him a fight nobody cares about, a warm-up to a main event between Primo Carnera and
Max Baer at Madison Square Garden. Emaciated, almost starving, out of shape for lack of training, Braddock agrees on being told the fee is $250, win or lose.
His unexpected win (brought about by desperation more than skill) puts him on the comeback trail with Baer (Craig Bierko), who is portrayed as a sadistically
vicious fighter, his opponent in the championship.
The screenplay by Akiva Goldsman and Cliff Hollingsworth is full of tart dialogue that might have been written for a film of the period (``They ought to put
your mouth in a circus'') and the two-hour movie is skilfully structured so that it doesn't so much avoid sentimental cliches as ride roughshod
The boxing scenes, especially the final fight between Braddock and Baer, are staged with the conviction we've become used to, in both the serious boxing
films and in less compelling entertainments such as the Rocky series. There's a strong sense of period, a vivid reminder that a nation's prosperity
too easily vanish practically overnight (``Unemployment hits 15 million,'' states a newspaper headline).
The one intrusive element in the screenplay is the introduction of a presumably fictional character, a former Wall Street broker called Mike Wilson (Paddy
Considine), who has lost everything and who befriends Braddock when they work together loading heavy bales on the Hoboken waterfront. Mike's misfortune
has turned him into a radical, and his story might have been the basis of an entirely different film; his presence in Cinderella Man fails
to add much to the main story, and seems
Otherwise, performances are impeccable, from Giamatti's nervous, loyal manager to Zellweger's frightened, resilient wife. But the film
belongs to Crowe, who is sensationally good as Braddock. It's a deeply felt performance on every level, and confirms once
again the versatility and intelligence of this volatile actor. There are some who think that the film's disappointing box-office performance in the US
was partly due to resentment against Crowe over the notorious telephone incident. It would be a shame if this were true, because Cinderella Man represents a
new peak in Crowe's career as an actor.
Caption: 'Tis a spar better thing: Russell Crowe with Paul Giamatti and, below, Renee Zellweger in Cinderella Man, a new peak in Crowe's career
Edition t - Inside EntertainmentSUN 25 SEP 2005, Page 012
By PAUL LEPETIT
Cinderella Man (M)
Players: Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Paddy Considine, Bruce McGill, David Hubbard, Connor Price, Ariel Waller, Patrick
Louis, Rosemarie DeWitt.
Writers: Cliff Hollingsworth, Akiva Goldsman.
Director: Ron Howard.
Where: General release.
In short: A hard right to the heart.
Jim Braddock is a legend of both the Depression and of boxing. Braddock was the nuggetty champion boxer who inspired millions in America as he fought on
their behalf. A dirt poor David taking on the establishment's various Goliaths.
We first meet him (Russell Crowe) in the boxing ring. He has downed someone and he skips around looking at his fallen opponent. He returns to a neat home
corner with a loving wife (Renee Zellwegger) and family.
But these are the good times. Suddenly Ron Howard takes us back to the days when there were very few good times.
Braddock was trying to keep his family together by boxing through the worst of the depression years.
He had shown a great deal of promise but now struggles to take on lesser fighters. It doesn't help that his right hand is broken.
But he loses the prize money anyway and returns home, a home where power is about to be cut off where even the milk deliveries have stopped. There is no
He works when he can get it on the wharf. But that's only occasionally and you have to be chosen.
Then when things are at their gloomiest, his old friend, trainer, mentor and agent Joe Gould (Paul Giametti) turns up with an offer.
The powers that be want Braddock to fight the new heavyweight contender.
It has to be just one fight tomorrow and Braddock is expected to lose but he will make some money.
And so the deal is done and Braddock returns to the ring. Only he doesn't lose and then begins a meteoric rise to the apex of the sport.
Not that there is much sport here. This is blood. This is heavy-handed thumping against the head. Low blows delivered with violence and intent, savage and
Dirty tricks abound but this is essentially a story of men who are driven to fight by desperation of some sort.
As Braddock's manager (Paul Giametti) puts it to a major fight organiser: ``We know the name of the game and it sure ain't pugilism.''
Ron Howard, as he does in just about all of his films, makes this, a work of Hollywood. And for a while you might think he shovels the sentiment a little bit
heavily. When it is cold the snow is deep and crisp, when there is poverty there is only the one crust left in the house and the children are forlorn.
He ladles out cliches, grand unmistakable cliches. But this works. As indeed does the way his hero works with his manager (a sharp-tongued 1930s cynic played
with class by Giametti).
This is a stunning film, more than a boxing film (as indeed most boxing films are); it is a picture of fighting (``not
the enemy you can't see'' as it is put at one stage) and sometimes even more than a picture of America in the Depression, a country and people
being ignored by its leaders.
Crowe is marvellous as is Zellwegger but the film has its own vivid heart and spirit. It's a knockout.
Jul 6 08 10:45 PM
...performances that made something hypnotic out of understatedness. And he does it again here. Another kind of actor might easily have
turned Braddock into a sort of holy innocent - the all-American boy who marries his childhood sweetheart and never quite loses faith in his country's
capacity to do right by him. But Crowe's Braddock is not an innocent. Nor is he a boy-man. His steadfastness is edged with desperation, as if he's
just one short step ahead of a debilitating pessimism.
Unconciously the reviewers are saying by not comparing his work to other actors that Russell has no peer but himself.
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