The title Cinderella Man was originally coined by classic New York journalist Damon Runyan, who is cited at the film's start as calling James Braddock the ultimate human interest story. Which is perfect for Ron Howard, one of the greatest human interest film directors of our time. He's re-teamed with his Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind crew of producer Brian Grazer, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and actor Russell Crowe to bring this historical sports fairy tale to life.
The story of Jim Braddock is at heart similar to that of Seabiscuit, though the boxer was already a phenomenon before the horse. It begins in 1928 with Braddock well on his way as an undefeated light-heavyweight boxer. All seems well for the so-called "Bulldog of Bergen" with his rising career, his loving wife Mae (René e Zellweger, Oscar winner for Cold Mountain), their young children, and a nice house across the river in New Jersey.
But as any student of American history can tell you, hard times hit most everyone soon after because of The Great Depression. Not that boxing lost its popularity during that period, but money became tighter for the Braddocks, partly because of some bad investments. The boxing great also fell into a string of losses, eventually breaking his hand in a match and decommissioned from the sport as a result. Suddenly, Braddock has no way to provide for his young family, and work is scarce—especially for a laborer with a hand injury. Poverty threatens to tear his family apart, but rather than send the kids away to stay with his sister-in-law, he's committed to keeping his loved ones together at all costs.
Time passes and things don't become easier, but then Braddock's manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti, Sideways) drops by with ...1
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