Movie Review: Cinderella Man: All for the Milk

He fights for the milk, and he is not alone. He has his wife, his children, the congregation of his neighborhood church, the guys on the docks, the down-and-outs in the Hooverville of Central Park, the manager who sells his furniture so he could work out, and the American public behind him.

He is the Bulldog of Bergen, celebrated prizefighter James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) who has fallen on hard times with most of the rest of America during the Great Depression. He has lost the money he invested in stocks. He has been fighting with a broken hand and losing so badly that his license to box is taken away.

Nevertheless, he will fight his way back to the top despite the odds. He will do it with Mae (Renee Zellweger) and the kids--Jay, Rosemarie, and Howard--alongside him.

Having faced despair, defeat, and the near demise of his family, Braddock is determined to fight for the well-being of his family. Along the way, he will become an icon of the spirit of ordinary people who need to believe they will overcome defeat. Braddock the sensitive guy is an excellent study of people. His sensitivity becomes a tool in his own victory. He watches, learns, and overcomes.

In Max Baer, whose fists have caused the "unintentional deaths" of two men, is the monster each of us faces. The fight in the ring is as much emotional as physical, as universal as it is personal. Braddock is the best in each of us as he fights clean and well and becomes the heavyweight champion of the world despite the odds.

Crowe's performance gives us access to that struggle and makes it our own.

Based on a true story, the movie Cinderella Man (2005) mythologizes Braddock's story--the story of a gentle, level-headed family man. This movie highlights the dignity and complexity of ordinary people. Yet again.


  1. Max Baer did not kill two men in the ring !! While he was charged with manslaughter in the death of Frankie Campbell, all charges were dropped and Max was completely exonerated. The grand jury found that Frankie Campbell did not protect himself per the rules of the ring. Frankie's own mother and his wife refused to file charges against Max Baer. The death of Frankie Campbell haunted Max Baer for the rest of his life and most certainly contributed to his own early death.

    Max Baer did not kill Ernie Schaaf. After their bout in 1932, Ernie went on to win several fights in the five months before his death. When Ernie entered the ring against 6' 6" 240 lbs. Primo Carnera, he was recovering from a bout with pneumonia that had resulted in encephalitis, swelling of the brain. Being forced to fight when he was still sick is what killed Ernie Schaaf, not a fight with Max Baer fully 5 months earlier.

    Please before so blithely destroying the legend of a beloved human being such as Max Baer, do your homework !!


  2. Anonymous3:17 PM

    You can look at this anyway you want. Regardless of whether or not Baer was exonerated, two men died after being in the ring with him - Campbell directly and Schaaf later.

    The movie, perhaps a bit erroneously, implies that Baer killed two in the ring.

    As for Schaaf, Grantland Rice wrote that "It is quite likely that earlier punching began softening up some cover for the brain. I saw Max Baer stagger the game Bostonian (Schaaf) some time ago in Madison Square Garden with several smashing clouts which could have helped nobody's head."

    Was Baer a great fighter? Yes, no question. Was he a murderer? No. But hardly any other fighters have been in the ring with two men that have died - directly or not.

    Again, with regard to Schaaf, Baer could have had an effect. Look how cautious pro sports teams are today when a player gets a concussion. None of them rush their players back. So don't come back for quite a while.

    And, once you get one concussion, it's not unlikely that your brain doesn't get rattled again.

  3. Okay, "unintentional deaths" is not the same as murder. I accept your semantical argument, Cat. Please be aware that I am talking about a movie, Cinderella Man, not the history of boxing. I am making the point that in this movie Baer becomes a metaphor for the insurmountable odds men and women faced during the Great Depression.


Post a Comment

Thanks for being here.