Analysis Of The Main Protagonist in The Movie Cinderella Man

Categories: Movie Review

In the movie Cinderella Man, James J. Braddock proves himself to be an outstanding and exceptional man. At the beginning of the movie, before the great depression, he is making thousands of dollars in a single day from each boxing match, which is at least ten times more than the annual wage for the average worker at that time, and he and his family are very well off. Later on, when the great depression sets in, he begins to suffer from extreme poverty and barely being able to feed his family, but through his remarkable skill at boxing, he is able to turn things around and support his family.

In the movie, James Braddock ’s actions that helped bring him and his family out of poverty demonstrated his tremendous determination, humility, and intelligence.

James Braddock demonstrates huge amounts of determination through many of his actions. For example, during a boxing match, he ends up breaking his hand, which can be very painful and would stop most people from doing any physical labor, but through his grit, perseverance, and determination to help feed his family, he conceals his cast and still goes to the dockyards to find work which involves hard labor; lifting and transporting goods.

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Also, another time during the movie that indicated his immense determination was when he went on relief to help support his family, the reason this demonstrates determination is because in that time, going on public assistance (Emergency Relief administration) had a massive stigma because for many people, it was a sign that you were too lazy, or unwilling to work.

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You would also have to stand in line for hours, which meant that you couldn’t seek government assistance discreetly and people could see you clearly, which was embarrassing to a lot of people. Braddock was a hugely determined man because he decided to go through with the fight against Max Baer even if he risked death, to help his family. The reason this shows his determination is that the boxer he is going against, has killed multiple people during a match and Braddock has a chance of dying and never seeing his family again. Even against the warnings from Jimmy Johnston and his wife Mae he decides to go fight because he needs the money. This shows that he is so determined, he will risk his life to help support his family in need.

The reason why James Braddock was successful was also because of his intelligence. In his fight against Art Lasky, he used his intelligence to his advantage, which helped him win that fight. One example was when Lasky broke Braddock‘s ribs, he made sure to show no signs of pain. When there was a break, Joe Gould (James Braddock’s Trainer/Manager) made sure that James wouldn’t sit down because if he did it would be extremely painful to Braddock and could reveal his weakness to Lasky. Secondly, with the advice of his manager Joe Gould, Braddock breaks Lasky’s nose during the fight, which is advantageous for him because the pain causes Lasky’s eyes to water which hinders his vision and reduces his focus, which is crucial to winning a boxing match. Finally before his fight against Max Baer, the world’s heavyweight boxing champion at the time, Jimmy Johnston shows Braddock a clip of when Baer killed a man during a match. Even though he was being shown the clip because Johnston was trying to warn him, Braddock used the footage to his advantage; he studied the way Baer moved and acted before he dealt his “killer” punch, so during the fight, he would know when Baer would try to knock him out so he could dodge correctly to avoid the punch that could’ve possibly knocked him out the match.

James Braddock was also a humble and grateful man and was not an arrogant person at all. During the movie, he shows his modesty through the way he acted. After winning multiple boxing matches and makes enough money to support his family, he goes to the relief office, which gave him money in his times of need, and reimburses the government all of the $323.60 (equivalent to around $6000 today) that the government gave him as a sign of gratitude. This demonstrated a great amount of humility because the government is giving you the money, and you do not owe them anything. You are not required to repay them, and at that time because of the shortage of money many people suffered from, it was unheard of to repay them. Braddock also did this because he himself said in an interview “I believe we live in a great country, a country that's great enough to help a man financially when he’s in trouble – and I just thought I should return it”. Another reason why Braddock was a humble man was when he was asked by reporter Frank Essex during an interview before his fight against Max Baer, “What do you got to say to your fans today, Jimmy?” and Braddock's reply was “I guess I'm grateful for the opportunity, I know that these days not everybody gets a second chance. I have a lot to be grateful for” which demonstrated that he’s grateful for everybody who supported him and gave him a second chance to become a boxer again. A final reason why I think Braddock was a humble man was when he went to Madison square garden when he was in dire need of money and begged the people there who many of them were wealthy for money to help afford to heat his home and to bring his kids back. This proves his humility because it takes lots of guts and courage to stand up there, humble himself, and rely on the generosity of other people to help him. Many people wouldn’t be able to do this because it would lower many people’s dignity. He said to the people there “You know me well enough to know that if I had anywhere else to go, I wouldn't be here” and he even apologized to his former manager Joe Gould for begging for money. Some people would see this as weakness or laziness, but I think that it shows just how courageous and humble he is, asking for support from others when he can’t support himself (or his family), especially asking for money can be very disheartening and can greatly reduce your self-esteem/image.

Through Braddock’s determination, humility, and intelligence James Braddock proves himself to be a truly remarkable man. Braddock had a very difficult life trying to raise a family during the great depression and his hard work, and superb skill at boxing are the reasons why he was able to survive. In the end, James J. Braddock is a real-life example of why you shouldn't give up when things get tough, keep on fighting, and that perseverance can lead to success.

Works cited

  1. Crowe, C. (Director). (2005). Cinderella Man [Film]. Universal Pictures.
  2. Hamilton, J. (2005). Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History. Mariner Books.
  3. Schaap, J. (2005). Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  4. Baird, J. (2005). Cinderella Man: A Horatio Alger Story. Library Journal, 130(1), 88.
  5. Bingham, R. (2005). The real story behind Cinderella Man. Christian Science Monitor, 97(105), 11.
  6. Fanning, J. (2005). Cinderella Man: A Humanistic Film That Reveals the Power of Personal Belief and Determination. Journal of Religion & Film, 9(1), 1-12.
  7. Fisk, C. W. (2006). Cinderella Man and the Great Depression. The Historian, 68(1), 53-69.
  8. Gordon, T. (2005). Cinderella Man: Living the Dream in the Great Depression. Random House Trade Paperbacks.
  9. Johnson, L. (2005). Cinderella Man: A Story of Rebirth and Redemption. American Cinematographer, 86(6), 60-65.
  10. Mercer, D. (2005). Cinderella Man: The Real Cinderella Story. The Journal of Popular Culture, 39(3), 386-402.
Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Analysis Of The Main Protagonist in The Movie Cinderella Man. (2024, Feb 03). Retrieved from

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