Payroll: Wall Street Crash of 1929 and James Braddock Essay

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Lynn Byron
HIS112C12 World History
Christopher Holcom
18 November 2012

“Cinderella Man”
A Ron Howard Movie
Written by Cliff Hollingsworth

Cinderella Man is based on the inspirational true story of Depression Era boxer James J. Braddock. Braddock was forced to retire from the ring during the years following the Crash of 1929. As was the case with many Americans living in poverty, he was forced to swallow his pride and go on Public Relief (a secret shame that many who had always worked for their families were experiencing across the country) in addition to begging past associates in the boxing association for money to keep his bills paid and his family intact. Then he is offered a second chance at boxing when his indefatigable manager gets him an out-of-the-blue, last-ditch shot to fight in Madison Square Garden and underdog Braddock becomes one of the most surprising and inspirational sports legends in history. I thought the writers did an excellent job of portraying the era and intertwining details of the era into the short space of a film. The film is an brilliant depiction of the era touching on areas little unknown to common historical facts, such as “Hooverville,” a conglomeration of shanties and crates. This area contained within Central Park was a makeshift housing development for homeless single workers during the worst of the Depression. Hooverville was a place on the outskirts of town where the defeated went, those who had lost their homes due to the crash. James Braddock’s friend Mike Wilson, a former stockbroker who loses his job, works with Braddock on the docks, becomes a friend of the ex-boxer but also a victim of the Depression. Wilson ends up in Hooverville and apparently suffers from injuries from a fight or fall and died sadly. Although I feel that this piece could have elaborated on and viewers could have been given better explanation as to what happened, perhaps it some was left out as Wilson is the movie’s only major fictional character. His story of personal downfall serves as a counterpoint to James Braddock’s rise.
One day when his youngest daughter of three children woke up hungry and her mother, Mae, gave her a little slice of steak with a glass of milk. When the daughter was still hungry, Mae said, “Sorry, honey, we have to save some for the boys.” I think that is a significant quote from the film that describes well the reactions of most families during the Depression if a question about having more food had arisen. In another piece of the movie, Braddock’s son steals a sausage from the butcher and he insists that his song take it back, telling him, “We don’t steal” and that the family will stay together in spite of their poverty.
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