Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cinderella Man

An excellent film. Russell Crowe, according to the tabloids, may be a churlish tool in real life but on the screen he's one of the best actors working today. There are no surprises, like a Greek tragedy you've seen a dozen times, this story is familiar. The everyman boxer hits the skids, then does well because he's a decent guy with a lot of heart, the long suffering wife who loves her man but can't bear to see him fight, etc. It's been said that Casablanca works because it's one cliche after another. Cinderella Man works the same way. It's supposedly based on the true story of James Braddock, but I suspect profound liberties were taken to increase the narrative flow and dramatic impact. Most notably the director Ron "Opie" Howard made Max Baer a vicious, murderous, womanizing bastard. While this may have helped the story, it's not true. Max Baer did kill a guy or two in the ring, but according to his son Max "Jethro" Baer Jr. he had nightmares about it for the rest of his life. He also put the dead boxers kids through college. In the limited time of a movie you only have time to tell the story of one decent guy and it helps if he's opposed by a bastard. Rent it, buy it, see it, you probably won't regret it.

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