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Shelf Pick

Cinderella Man

In any good fairytale, there’s a hero who rises up in the face of adversity, and that’s no different from the Cinderella Man. This is not your average tale of a princess but a story that is worthy of recognition and definitely packs a punch. In the tale of James J. Braddock, his rise and fall will take you on a journey through the importance of survival, courage, and what has shaped boxing as we know it forever.

Why did we put Cinderella Man on The Shelf?

Cinderella Man released in 2005 is a cinematic gem for both sports lovers and movie junkies.
Based in New York City during the 1930s, we see the story of a young man’s life unfold from the beginning but then quickly comes crashing down due to the hardship following the Great Depression. Cinderella Man focuses on a time in which historically was known as one of the most economically draining periods in human history. This plays an important part in the story and connects survival and sport in a big way. Braddock is known as a burned-out boxer who has seen better days. Because of this, his license gets revoked and he is forced to work down on the docs to support his family. But then, he is given the chance at one last fight against Corn Griffin, who held the American Heavyweight title at the time. Braddock takes the opportunity and not because he is able to do what he loves one last time, but for financial stability for his wife and three kids. During this time boxing was at a decline due to the Great depression and boxers were simply fighting to survive and get by and this was no different from Braddock. We see the instinct of survival presented all throughout this movie and the association it has with the sport. Boxing was much more than just a leisurely activity; it was a way of living. For some people, this remains a reality even today. Sport often acts as a lifeline for a lot of people in a number of different ways. As a sports lover, Cinderella Man is able to magnify that feeling of sport being so much more than a game and this film provides something most people can resonate with.

Cinderella Man belongs on The Shelf because...

Cinderella Man embodies courage and heroism and Braddock displays these traits by showing us what he’s willing to go through for his family. It can also be seen through his ability to rise back up from his fall after his glory days. After given the opportunity to fight Corn Griffin, we see growth through his wins and his determination to get back into boxing after his manager offers him another fight. With the odds stacked against him, Braddock shows that he still has a fight left in him because he actually has something worth fighting for. Throughout each fight we see Braddock becoming stronger and more resilient so much so that the media calls him “Cinderella Man” due to his rise from the ashes similar to something you would read in a fairytale. This nickname highlights the heroism that he represents throughout his boxing career. Having courage can be hard and pushing forward through difficult times can even be harder. Cinderella Man does a great job of spotlighting Braddock’s courage which ultimately makes him a hero not only for himself but for the entire lower working class. The greatest thing about this film is that it connects society and sport together and we can see how one man’s courage can amplify others.

Although Cinderella Man offers some great underlying messages one thing is obvious and that is the evolution of boxing. It is both different and similar to today’s fighting. We can see how history has shaped the overall sport and how Cinderella Man was a part of that. Braddock’s last fight against Max Baer lasted 15 rounds which is unheard of in today’s world of boxing. Typically, a fight can last up to 12 rounds at most but is usually shorter than that. This rule changed around the 1980s because of the negative effect it had on many fighter’s health. In regards to the overall experience, boxing has stayed the same and it follows similar patterns to the Cinderella Man film, it’s just more technologically advanced. Watching Braddock fight also teaches us to never write off the underdog which has been the case for a lot of recent fights. The same grittiness, intensity, and realness depicted in Cinderella Man still remain today.

Marilyn's Final Thoughts

Cinderella Man collectively displays survival, courage and the history of boxing into a fairytale that needs to be seen to believe. With the raw depiction of life and sport during the 1930s, this film is a sports enthusiast favorite and a must-watch. Regardless of who you are, this film teaches us when you fall to pick yourself back up like Cinderella Man.

On The shelf