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Low Blows, Dark Vengeance

Cinderella Man
Produced and distributed by Universal Pictures and Miramax Films
Directed by Ron Howard
Screenplay by Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman

Batman Begins
Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by David S. Goyer

Boxing has always been a favorite subject for screenwriters.  No other sport accommodates their mythomaniacal instincts quite so well.  In Body and Soul (1947), Abraham Polonsky dramatized his Marxist analysis of American capitalism to disturbing effect.  Seven years later, Budd Schulberg, having been bruised by Marxist analysts himself, turned the tables with On the Waterfront, in which proletarian middleweight Marlon Brando defeats a gaggle of union goons standing in for the strong-arm wing of the American Communist Party.  In the 70’s, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky kayoed the cheap cynicism of an entire decade.

Ron Howard’s beautifully made Cinderella Man works in the same tradition and boasts fine performances from all its principals, especially Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti.  Its achievements are eclipsed, however, by its casual disregard for truth.

This is not a yarn with boxing as its central metaphor.  It is supposed to be the story of James Braddock (Crowe), an...

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