Cinderella Man – (a) Introduction

“Most serious movies live in a world of cynicism and irony, and most good-hearted movie characters live in bad movies. [Cinderella Man] is a movie where a good man prevails in a world where every day is an invitation to despair, where resentment would seem fully justified, where doing the right thing seems almost gratuitous, because nobody is looking and nobody cares” [1]. This excerpt from film critic Roger Ebert’s website captures the over-arching theme of the Ron Howard-directed movie. Russell Crowe portrays boxer James Braddock, the proclaimed American hero who helped instill hope in a people who received the Great Depression’s invitation to despair. What is effective about the protagonist in Cinderella Man is that he was somebody who experienced that same poverty. Like all other historical films, this one strives for an accurate story-telling of a specific event from the past. Unlike most historical films, unfortunately, Cinderella Man achieves that goal. It is accurate both as a secondary source about the characters and the events revolving around Braddock and the Depression, and as a primary source about the filmmaker’s view of the past. Like I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and The Grapes of Wrath, Cinderella Man immerses its characters, the setting, and the audience in the painstaking and harsh reality that was the Great Depression.

1. Ebert, Roger, “Cinderella Man,” (accessed October 30, 2008).