Cinderella Man

The Cinderella Man
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Jim Braddock

Also starring: Renee Zellweger, Craig Bierko (Max Baer), Paul Giamatti, Paddy Considine (Hank), Ron Canada

Directed by: Ron Howard

Screenplay: Charlie Mitchell, Cliff Hollingsworth, Akiva Goldsman

Producer: Brian Grazer

Distribution: Universal Pictures / Foreign: Miramax, Imagine Entertainment

Estimated filming dates: Beginning April 2004 (Delayed from March 1 due to Russell's shoulder injury)

Release date: June, 2005


Based on the true story of James J. Braddock, dockworker and aging boxer in the 1930s whose unlikely string of upsets led to a face-off with heavyweight champ Max Baer. The film will not only portray Braddock's amazing rise and quick fall in the world of boxing, but also show the challenges he faced providing for his family during the Depression.

The real Jim Braddock:

James Braddock
Born Dec. 6, 1905 in New York CIty
Died Nov. 29, 1974 in North Bergen, N.J.
In 1935, he defeated Max Baer in 15 rounds to become heavyweight champion. Braddock, who was an 11-2 underdog before the fight, was responsible for one of boxing's greatest upsets. His reign wasn't long, however; he lost the title to Joe Louis in 1937.

Wore brght green dressing gown

His last boxing match was on Jan. 21, 1938, defeating Tommy Farr.

Why he was called "Cinderella Man":

"Greater fighters than the Jersey Irishman have held the heavyweight championship, but none of them ever made a deeper impression in his time. For Braddock's influence extended far beyond those who never saw a bout, wouldn't go across the street to see one and, except for him, had no interest in any prizefighter. The aged and the infirm and out of luck. The forgotten victims of the Great Depression that crushed and tormented them.

". . . Letters came to Braddock from all over the world. Some of them were from small boys who wanted to grow up to be big and strong as their hero. But most of them were from those whom life had treated shabbily. Men who'd had good positions and lost them - whose savings had been swept away by the Wall Street disaster whose families were in need; from those who had been left alone in the world and who were plodding a weary way, hopeless until this big guy had come swinging back from obscurity to show them how a losing fight could be won." ("Encyclopedia of World Boxing Champions," John D. McCallum, 1975)

Photo: The Amazing Story of James J. Braddock
by James Lambert Harte
(Rodale Press. 1938)


Beyond the obvious reason (hey we sat through , we can handle anything!), "Cinderalla Man" promises to be the type of crowd-pleasing underdog sports story that's irresistible. OK, so it's about boxing, a subject many of Russell's female fans have no interest in. And for us, seeing Russell being beaten and bloodied onscreen has never been easy.

But consider Braddock's story: New Jersey dockworker on relief rises from obscurity and poverty and, against all the odds, becomes boxing champion of the world. Just a year before the real Braddock won the heavyweight title in 1935, he and wife Mae were barely scraping by. Their gas was shut off and they had barely any food. Mae once said: "Jim went out to see if he could borrow just a few dollars. And that night, we rent on relief. It hurt Jim's pride." ("Encyclopedia of World Boxing Champions," John D. McCallum, 1975)

One year later, he would be responsible for one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing. An 11-2 underdog before the fight, Braddock defeated Max Baer in 15 rounds to become heavyweight champion. His reign wasn't long, however; he lost the title to Joe Louis in 1937.

But even in the bout against Louis, Braddock's never-surrender spirit was evident. After being knocked down in the first round, even Braddock's manager, Joe Gould, asked him to give up. Instead, he got up and continued the fight, getting pounded until he was knocked down again in the eighth round. He was still trying to get up when the referee counted him out.

In such a romantic story, there has to be a dedicated woman somewhere in the story, and that would be Braddock's wife, Mae. Renee Zellweger has become a bona fide star since being cast in the film. And her warm screen presence, as well as her talent, should be a nice match for Russell.


[The script] "beautifully portrays the relationship Braddock had to his family." It's "more than a boxing film." Expressen (Sweden, 12/01) (Thanks to Una and Ninnie)


[Russell] is the nicest guy you ever want to meet, and let me tell you, the sucker can fight." (London Times, Feb. 24, 2004)


"He's very talented, and he also takes his work very seriously in terms of the lengths he will go to create a believable character. He's very determined too, and Russell really lives his characters." Sydney Sunday Magazine, Nov. 7, 2004


". . . My character was difficult because she wasn’t present on the page. It was more in-between the lines. I really had to understand society at the time of the Depression and how it made an impact on this woman." Cindy Pearlman/New York Times, Nov. 2004

Braddock with Joe DiMaggio

Cinderella Man: In Print

Cinderella Man:

Cinderella Man: In Print Page Three

Cinderella Man: Cinderella Man Premiere Press Release


The Official Website of James J. Braddock Cinderella Man

The Cyber Boxing Zone Jim Braddock Cinderella Man

Drawing of Russell as Jim Braddock by and thanks to Julie Popowicz.
Julie now joins us as MRC's official artist!
You can view more of Julie's work here.

Any cast, crew members or extras out there? We'd love to hear from you. You can contact us at:

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