Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Cinderella Man

I saw The Cinderella Man over the weekend. Boxing movies are not everyone’s favorite film fare. Boxing, for that matter, is not as popular as it once was, when there were more fights and boxing was largely a working-class guy’s sport.

This is a wonderful movie, stitched through with the history of the great depression and filmed in a subdued color that almost suggests the rotogravure newspaper sections of the Twenties and Thirties.

The recreations of the fights are (I’m told) extremely accurate. They are also very gritty and may not be for the tender-hearted. The story of James J. Braddock is the story of a man who literally fought his way out of the depression to become the hero of his working class buddies on the docks.

There is a good site devoted to Braddock that you can get by clicking here. Interesting sidelight: Braddock’s granddaughter is actress Rosemarie Dewitt, who plays Sara Wilson in the movie.

A Rite of Passage

I’ve written about this before, I think, but I’m sure it has something to do with my affection for the movie. There was a time...at least so it was in Chicago…that going to the fights was as much a rite of passage as getting laid, or being able to smoke without hiding your cigarettes.

A father would come home and tell the mom that he and a couple of the boys were going to the fights that night and he thought he’d take the kid, if he wanted to go. Did the kid want to go? You bet. This was an invitation into man’s estate. Tonight he wouldn’t be a kid, he’d be one of the boys.

These were usually club fights, held in smoky social halls or neighborhood auditoriums, with fighters on their way up or their way down. There weren’t many women at these fights, at least not “nice” women. No one’s mother, no one’s sheltered sister went to the fights.

Your father’s friends might offer you a cigarette, or a seegar and a beer, and your father would look the other way and you’d try to smoke the one and drink the other without disgracing yourself.

That sort of thing could make you a boxing fan for life.

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