Skip to comments.`Cinderella Man' does Baer an injustice, some say
Posted on 06/13/2005 11:06:29 PM PDT by ambrose
Posted on Mon, Jun. 13, 2005
`Cinderella Man' does Baer an injustice, some say
By MARK EMMONS
San Jose Mercury News
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Everyone agrees that James J. Braddock, the hero of ``Cinderella Man,'' was a good guy. But was Max Baer, the man Braddock defeated for the heavyweight title, a villain?
The movie paints Baer as a one-dimensional bad character. But Bert Sugar and Larry Merchant, two longtime observers of the fight trade, say the film does Baer an injustice.
Baer did kill one opponent in the ring. Another later died from boxing injuries, perhaps incurred in part during a fight with Baer. Both Merchant and Sugar also agree the film accurately captures how Baer could be a clown in the ring.
``But he wasn't a bad guy at all,'' said Merchant, an HBO boxing commentator. ``He was one of the predecessors to Muhammad Ali as a guy who loved the media. He was a big, handsome guy who loved the ladies.''
Sugar believes filmmaker Ron Howard needed to make Baer look like a thug so Braddock could be perceived as more gallant.
``The truth didn't work to their end, so they Hollywood-ized the story,'' Sugar said.
Something else doesn't ring true, he added. He called the real Braddock-Baer bout ``the worst heavyweight championship fight in history.'' He said Baer threw the only punch of consequence - and it was by accident. Braddock, a huge underdog, won the close decision by outjabbing Baer.
(Excerpt) Read more at mercurynews.com ...
The inaccuracies seem to be about par for the course for a "based on a true story" film.
Guess who Max Baer's son is.
I am currently writing a spec screenplay of a true sports story from a similar time period. You have to create drama. You have to have a good guy and a villain. It's called drama. I don't think Baer looked so bad int he film, just cocky.
Baer was not a flat out villain in that film. He was complex. He had a bad side, but the movie has Braddock subtley using Baer's consicence against him so that he would come out weak (IMHO). For example, when Braddock sees the film of Baer killing the guy, he can see the remorse in Baer's posture. He then walks up to the guy and tries to show him that he (Braddock) is a real human being. Baer is really afraid he is going to kill Braddock. He does not want to. A real villain would have exulted in killing people.
Howard's film "A Beautiful Mind" was a wonderful movie that had very little to do with the truth either. There were so many errors, made up touches and such in that film it was amazing. Here is just a few for those who know that movie:
There is no such thing as a "ceremony of the pens".
John Nash had a child by a woman he lived with for years. He abandoned him, and the child was given up for foster care. The son with Alicia, in the movie, is also schizophrenic.
There is no speech at the Nobel prize ceremony.
Nash did not draw on windows. It was just a storytelling device.
He got a divorce from Alicia.
He spent years after leaving Alicia banging about Europe, writing home incomprehensible postcards about aliens and Jews.
He supposedly was arrested for indecent exposure in a public bathroom. Can we say homosexual? Alicia says no, but there were was more than one report of Nash's liasons with men.
There's lots more. One thing they did get right (from someone who knows) is what it is like to be married to someone with severe mental illness. In fact, I don't know anyone married to such a person who hasn't had a "phone episode".
I have come to the conclusion that RH just likes to tell good stories. Nothing wrong with that, but don't expect them to be truthful retellings.
I agree with your assessment of A Beautiful Mind. I read a biography of Nash after seeing the movie because I was so intrigued. Howard made Nash to appear to be a decent guy with terrible problems; in reality he was NOT a nice person, not a "beautiful" person. He was selfish and self-absorbed as well as mentally ill. Of course the delusions he saw were of aliens and he wrote against Jews so of course he puts a Jewish doctor in to save Nash in the movie. I think Nash was even weirder in real life than depicted in the movie. NOT a likeable person nor someone I would ever admire.
But have you EVER seen a Hollywood movie that was true to historical fact?
Hollywood types have always had a problem with 'reality' and the truth. None of them can see past their noses and are such whores that everything they turn out is flat, without dimension. I think it's because none of them read books. In the early years of film, directors drew from their education and reading. Films had scope and dimension and characters were believable. Now, directors have no intellectual or conceptual frame of reference unique to themselves as individuals so they draw from 'other' films, from everything that has been done already. Making a visual record from the recollection of a visual record is a twice abstracted form of expression and further than ever from art. Film as a cultural expression is by now exhausted. Now, films merely assault our senses and are more and more sensational all the time to draw the uneducated and easily entertained. Bread and circuses.
Another thing...Nash didn't start going nuts until he was 30.
Although he and Alicia divorced early on, they never really "split."
Max Baer, Jr.?