original "Rocky." It was a great experience and the
Deerfield Beach Ultra Vision rocking chair cinema was
rocking that night. The people cheered the Italian
Stallion and celebrated the movie destined to win the
Academy Award for best picture. One can almost relive
the same thrill with "Cinderella Man," the true story
of James J. Braddock that could have inspired all
sports movies, from “Rocky” to “Seabiscuit.”
In 1928, James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) is a light
heavyweight boxer with potential. Five years later
during the height of the Depression, Braddock barely
has enough money to support his wife and three
children in a Jersey tenement. With his best days in
the ring behind him, Braddock is forced to fight with
a broken arm. Considered a bum because of a listless
performance in the ring, Braddock has his boxing
With less income, Braddock seeks work on the docks of
New Jersey. The creditors are closing in and the
Braddock Family is forced to obtain public assistance.
Things go from bad to worst when one of the Braddock
children develops a fever and nasty cough.
With some help from his old manager Joe Gould (Paul
Giamatti) Braddock is given the opportunity for one
last payday in Madison Square Garden. While on the
under card to the Primo Canera-Max Baer championship,
the underdog Braddock makes short work out of his
opponent. Within a year, Braddock finds himself
challenging Max Baer for the heavyweight championship
of the world.
The crowd I saw this movie with really got into this
movie, especially the fight scenes. I could hear one
man from the World War II Generation say in the middle
of the movie, "I know how this ends, but this is
exciting!" Avoiding the manic editing so common with
modern action sequences, Director Ron Howard creates
a visual narrative that feeds the story.
The character development is strong with understated
performances by Crowe and Zellweger. As Joe Gould,
Giamatti steals the show as the tough manager with a
heart of gold. Given his snub by the academy awards
the last few years, Giamatti is likely to be Oscar
nominated for his work in "Cinderella Man." Look for
a cameo by Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard’s
trainer, Angelo Dundee, in Braddock's corner.
I am fortunate that my Dad and I had another bonding
experience with "Cinderella Man" that was similar to
that of "Rocky." "Cinderella Man" is the best Father's
Day gift one can share.