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Monday, February 20, 2006

As the Crowe Flies

A number of critics on the right, such as Michael Medved and John Podhoretz, have singled out Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe as the late James J. Braddock, as one of the great films of 2005. Not that the film has any political aspect; right and left have become an issue only inasmuch as leftists have such heavy commitments to agenda films like Brokeback Mountain that they have no passion left for good solid cinema.

That said, Cinderella Man was needlessly harmed by its decision to demonize Max Baer as a vicious killer, which he patently was not. If you do see the film on DVD, be sure to watch the footage from the actual Baer-Braddock fight in the Bonus Features. There you will see that Baer was a total gentleman who spontaneously grabbed Braddock's head and gave him a kiss at the end of the last round, despite his almost certainly knowing that he had lost his title.

It would be interesting to hear back from our readers on one bizarre point of advertising. If you pick up that DVD and look at the picture on its cover, does it appear to be a natural depiction of two fully dressed people embracing? Please let us know your impressions.


James F. Elliott said...

I think your criticism of the film's portrayal of Max Baer is rather off the mark. You need only pay attention to the final moments of victory: Baer comes up to Braddock and congratulates him in the manner of a competitor beaten by a worthy opponent.

Labeling "Brokeback Mountain" as an agenda film ignores the sheer scope of its artistic achievement. It's a far more moving portrayal of love denied than almost any other film I have seen.

Evanston2 said...

This comparison may seem extreme to you, but "Triumph of the Will" was also an artistically award- winning and moving film. Yet it no doubt had an agenda. The reason BBM has been discussed, nominated, and award-winning is the agenda. If all the "romance" (or betrayal, depending on your perspective) was heterosexual this film would not be prominent. That said, I respect the fact that you enjoyed the movie and vouch for it to others.

Hunter Baker said...

I skipped BBM because I think it was an intentional effort to piss on one of the ultimate symbols of manhood. I haven't seen it and don't doubt the artistic achievement.

Cinderalla Man, despite whatever historical flaws it has in its depiction of Max Baer, was a wonderful, wonderful film.

S. T. Karnick said...

Jay is entirely correct in his assertion that CINDERELLA MAN does Max Baer a disservice. For "dramatic purposes" they changed the character radically, into a vicious monster (with the moment of congratulation at the end in fact being entirely of character, or more accurately, entirely out of caricature), and in some respect for decency and history the filmmakers should have changed the Baer character's name.

Other than that, however, the film is quite good.

Another excellent film centered on boxing is GENTLEMAN JIM, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn as the boxer Jim Corbett. A wonderful film, and when you see the ending you will realize what a pale imitation Ron Howard achieved with his moment of congratulation at the end of the Braddock-Baer fight. Ron Howard is a competent director but no kind of thinker or creative mind at all. Raoul Walsh is the real thing.