When Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man opened earlier this year, many people anticipated that it might be this year’s Seabiscuit or Road to Perdition: a more serious, reflective summer movie that nonetheless made some serious money. Unfortunately, despite decent reviews, the film failed to catch the imagination of moviegoers and fell far short of industry hopes or projections at the box office. Which is really too bad, because Cinderella Man is a very well-written redemption tale set against the backdrop of America’s Great Depression. Indeed, the quality of the script is really evident in this “shooting script” book published by Newmarket Press.
Screenwriter Akiva Godsman—who won an Academy Award for 2001’s A Beautiful Mind—deftly sketches the life of “legendary” Jim Braddock, a once-promising boxer whose hopes seemed to fade with America’s economy after the stock market crash of 1929, only to resurface during the depression’s darkest years as the most unlikely of comeback heroes. Forced into retirement after a string of losses in the ring, Braddock’s family slips into poverty with the rest of the country and Braddock desperately works whatever jobs he can find in order to support his family. But there are far more men looking for work than there are jobs to be had, and a series of reversals has Braddock’s family without heat and almost without a roof over their heads, contemplating “splitting up” the family in order for the kids to survive. In screenwriting terms, Goldsman does an excellent job of quickly establishing the story’s major players and artfully keeps the action moving.
In a storytelling sense, it is sometimes difficult to recognize some of the ways a story is constructed just by watching the finished product (in this case, the film). Reading the screenplay, however, allows you to recognize the way in which certain story aspects are emphasized. There is an interesting scene where Braddock basically hits his old buddies up for “charity” (including his old manager) so that he can get the heat turned back on in his small apartment. In the scene, his old manager (who we’ve witnessed hiding from Braddock in other scenes) gives Braddock exactly what he needs to turn the heat back on, after everyone else has already donated. When juxtaposed against subsequent revelations, it is fascinating to see how Goldsman wanted to portray the manager and build up certain false impressions in the audience’s mind.
Those who enjoy delving a bit more deeply into the nuts and bolts of a good film would probably like the Cinderella Man shooting script. In addition to the full text of the script, an “exclusive” introduction and Q&A with director Ron Howard, film stills and complete cast and crew credits. There are 20 b/w photos and also clips from newspaper articles written at the time of Braddock’s comeback exploits and even articles written after his death. While the overall presentation lacks the charm of some of Newmarket’s other film-related books (such as the ones for Ray or Kingdom of Heaven, both of which featured lavish full-color illustrations), the Cinderella Man Shooting Script is worth considering if you are interested in studying the film more closely.
Author’s Note: This article was originally posted at Wallo World