Million Dollar Baby

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For the 1941 film, see Million Dollar Baby (1941 film).
Not to be confused with Billion Dollar Baby.
Million Dollar Baby
Million Dollar Baby poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Screenplay by Paul Haggis
Story by F.X. Toole
Starring Clint Eastwood
Hilary Swank
Morgan Freeman
Music by Clint Eastwood
Cinematography Tom Stern
Edited by Joel Cox
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • December 15, 2004 (2004-12-15)
Running time 132 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1][2]
Box office $216,763,646

Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman. This film is about a boxing trainer who is not appreciated, the mistakes that haunt him from his past and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer (the film's title character) achieve her dream of becoming a professional. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The screenplay was written by Paul Haggis, based on short stories by F.X. Toole, the pen name of fight manager and "cutman" Jerry Boyd. Originally published under the title Rope Burns, the stories have since been republished under the film's title.

Plot[edit]

Margaret "Maggie" Fitzgerald, a waitress from a Missouri town in the Ozarks, shows up in the Hit Pit, a run-down Los Angeles gym which is owned and operated by Frankie Dunn, a brilliant but only marginally successful boxing trainer. Maggie asks Dunn to train her, but he angrily responds that he "doesn't train girls."

Maggie attempts to win the cantankerous Frankie over by working out tirelessly each day in his gym, even when others discourage her. Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris, Frankie's friend and employee, encourages and helps her all he can. "Scrap" also narrates the story.

Frankie's prize prospect, "Big" Willie Little, signs with successful manager Mickey Mack after becoming impatient with Dunn's rejecting offers for a championship bout. With prodding from Scrap and impressed with her persistence, Frankie reluctantly agrees to train Maggie. He warns her that he will teach her only the basics and then find her a manager. His most important advice is that she should protect herself in the ring at all times.

Before her first fight, Frankie leaves Maggie with another manager, much to her dismay, but rejoins her in the middle of the bout, and coaches her to victory. Maggie makes him promise not to abandon her again. Maggie turns out to be a natural. She fights her way up in the women's welterweight boxing division, winning many of her bouts with first-round knockouts. Estranged from his own daughter who returns his letters unopened, Frankie comes to establish an almost paternal bond with Maggie. Dupris becomes concerned when Frankie rejects several offers for big fights, though, and arranges a meeting for her with Mickey Mack, but she is loyal to Frankie, and is rewarded for her loyalty when he begrudgingly accepts a fight for her against a top-ranked opponent in the UK. He bestows a Gaelic nickname on her, which energizes the crowd, and the two travel Europe as she continues to win.

Maggie's own white trash family cares little for her well-being. Maggie saves up enough of her winnings to buy her mother a house, but instead of being grateful, she berates Maggie for endangering her welfare payments and Medicaid benefits. She also belittles her daughter's success in the ring, saying that everyone back home is laughing at her.

Frankie is finally willing to arrange a title fight. He secures Maggie a $1 million match in Las Vegas, Nevada against the WBA women's welterweight champion, Billie "The Blue Bear", a German ex-prostitute who has a reputation as a dirty fighter. Overcoming a shaky start, Maggie begins to dominate the fight, but after a round has ended, Billie knocks her out with a sucker punch from behind. Before Frankie can pull the corner stool out of the way, Maggie lands hard on it, breaking her neck and leaving her a quadriplegic.

At first, Frankie refuses to accept the bleak prognosis, but dozens of other medical opinions unanimously confirm there is no hope of recovery. He half-heartedly places the responsibility on Scrap for convincing him to train Maggie, but in the end blames himself.

In a medical rehabilitation facility, Maggie looks forward to a visit from her family, though Frankie repeatedly calls them with no success. Eventually, the family arrives—but only after first visiting Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood—and with an attorney in tow. Their lone concern is to arrange the transfer of Maggie's assets to them. She sees through their transparent scheme and orders them to leave, threatening to sell the house—which they have not claimed in their name to continue receiving welfare payments—out from under them if they ever show their faces again.

Frankie never leaves her side. He reads to her, urges her to go back to school and invites her to come live with him. As the days pass, however, Maggie develops bedsores and undergoes an amputation for an infected leg. She asks a favor of Frankie: to help her die while she can still remember the cheers she heard, saying she got what she most wanted out of life.

A horrified Frankie refuses, but seeks the advice of his priest, Father Horvak, whom he has tormented for 23 years. Horvak warns him that euthanasia is a grave sin, and that he will be lost forever if he goes through with it. Maggie bites her tongue repeatedly in an attempt to bleed to death, but the medical staff saves her life each time and takes measures to prevent further suicide attempts.

Frankie sneaks in one night. Just before administering a fatal injection of adrenaline, he finally tells Maggie the meaning of a nickname he gave her, Mo Chuisle (spelled incorrectly in the film as "mo cuishle"): Irish for "my darling, and my blood" (literally, "my pulse"). He then disappears for good. Scrap's narration is revealed to be a letter to Frankie's daughter, informing her of her father's true character.

Cast[edit]

  • Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn, a gruff but well-meaning elderly boxing trainer.
  • Morgan Freeman as Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris, Dunn's gym assistant; an elderly former boxer, he was blinded in one eye in his 109th, and last, fight.
  • Hilary Swank as Margaret "Maggie" Fitzgerald, a determined, aspiring boxer trained up by Frankie Dunn.
  • Jay Baruchel as Dangerous Dillan or "Danger", a simple-minded would-be boxer.
  • Mike Colter as "Big" Willie Jones, a boxer whom Dunn has trained for years.
  • Lucia Rijker as Billie "The Blue Bear" Osterman, a vicious, ex-prostitute boxer.
  • Brían F. O'Byrne as Father Horvak, the priest of the church which Dunn attends, who cannot stand Dunn.
  • Anthony Mackie as Shawrelle Berry, an overzealous boxer and frequent tenant of Dunn's gym.
  • Margo Martindale as Earline Fitzgerald, Maggie's selfish mother.
  • Riki Lindhome as Mardell Fitzgerald, Maggie's sister.
  • Michael Peña as Omar, a boxer and Shawrelle's best friend.
  • Benito Martinez as Billie's manager
  • Grant L. Roberts as Billie's cut man, (trainer) trained Hilary Swank off screen for her Academy award winning role
  • Bruce MacVittie as Mickey Mack, a rival of Dunn.
  • David Powledge as Counterman at Diner
  • Joe D'Angerio as Cut Man
  • Aaron Stretch as Himself
  • Don Familton as Ring Announcer

Development and production[edit]

The film was stuck in so-called "development hell" for years before it was shot. Several studios rejected the project even when Eastwood signed on as actor and director. Even Warner Bros., Eastwood's longtime home base, would not agree to a US$30 million budget. Eastwood persuaded Lakeshore Entertainment's Tom Rosenberg to put up half the budget (as well as handle foreign distribution), with Warner Bros. contributing the rest ($15 million). Eastwood shot the film in less than 40 days between June and July 2004.[1][2] Filming occurred in Los Angeles and film sets at Warner Brothers Studios.[2] The term, 'Million Dollar Baby' was from a nose art on a WWII Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber. Eastwood had his daughter Morgan Colette appear in a brief role as a girl who waves to Swank's character at a gas station.[3] [4]

Box office[edit]

Million Dollar Baby initially had a limited release, opening in eight theaters in December 2004.[5] In its later wide release, the film earned $12,265,482 in North America and quickly became a box-office hit both domestically and internationally. It grossed $216,763,646 in theaters; $100,492,203 in the United States, and $116,271,443 overseas. The film played in theaters for six and a half months.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received critical acclaim, with a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes[7] and an 86 out 100 score on Metacritic, meaning "universal acclaim".[8] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film four stars and stated that "Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby is a masterpiece, pure and simple," listing it as the best film of 2004.[9] Michael Medved stated: "My main objection to Million Dollar Baby always centered on its misleading marketing, and effort by Warner Brothers to sell it as a movie about a female Rocky, with barely a hint of the pitch-dark substance that led Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer . . . to declare that 'no movie in my memory has depressed me more than Million Dollar Baby.'"[10]

In early 2005, the film sparked controversy when some disability rights activists protested against the ending. Wesley J. Smith in The Weekly Standard also criticized the film for its ending and for missed opportunities; Smith said, "The movie could have ended with Maggie triumphing once again, perhaps having obtained an education and becoming a teacher; or, opening a business managing boxers; or perhaps, receiving a standing ovation as an inspirational speaker."[11]

Eastwood responded to the criticism by saying the film was about the American dream.[12] In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Eastwood distanced himself from the actions of characters in his films, noting, "I've gone around in movies blowing people away with a .44 Magnum. But that doesn't mean I think that's a proper thing to do".[13] Roger Ebert believes "a movie is not good or bad because of its content, but because of how it handles its content. Million Dollar Baby is classical in the clean, clear, strong lines of its story and characters, and had an enormous emotional impact".[14]

Some Irish commentators criticized the fact that the phrase Mo Chuisle, a term of endearment meaning My pulse, was misspelled in the film as Mo Cuishle, as shown on the back of Maggie's robe.[15] In Irish and other Goidelic languages, consonants soften when followed by an 'h', hence the "c" in "chuisle" turns into a guttural "ch". It is translated in the film as "My darling, my blood". The original phrase is short for A chuisle mo chroí, meaning "O pulse of my heart".[16] The film has also been praised for stirring interest in the Irish language in the U.S.[16]

Spoiler debate[edit]

When describing the plot of the film, Ebert gave a spoiler warning.[17] He noted in his reviews the difficulty of discussing the film without discussing details of the plot, saying that even warning about spoilers would itself be a spoiler.[18] Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today said the film "packs a surprise plot twist" and said "spoilsports already have begun to leak details about this drama", saying "the urge to divulge the story's secrets will only grow worse when the film finally goes nationwide." Wloszczyna noted that David Thomson of The Independent "offered readers only a hint of the story basics" and said "most reviewers have coddled the sports saga with similar care..." Wloszczyna quoted Thomson as saying, "My great wish always, which is difficult to achieve, is to go in knowing nothing about a film."[19]

Jeffrey Overstreet of Christianity Today avoided revealing plot details, stating that while knowing the nature of the third part would not ruin the film, it would alter the experience significantly.[20] Mark Moring of Christianity Today said, "Who wants to watch a movie when you know how it ends? We've actually had to wrestle with that question around here lately..." Moring said, "We wondered if our 'moral obligation' to warn Christians about the potentially disturbing subject matter somehow 'trumped' our professional commitment to avoid plot spoilers — especially the worst plot spoiler of all: divulging the end. After some discussion, we agreed that the right decision was to not give away the end to Million Dollar Baby."[21]

Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice said the film had a "spoiler-spawning shift in narrative."[22] Ian Grey of Baltimore City Paper said the last act seems to be from another film at first, and said "Naming this misfortune and its consequences, however, would be an unforgivable spoiler."[23]

Accolades[edit]

Million Dollar Baby received the award for Best Picture of 2004 at the 77th Academy Awards. Clint Eastwood was awarded his second Best Director Oscar for the film and also received a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination. Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman received Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscars, respectively. Joel Cox, Eastwood's editor for many years, was nominated for Best Film Editing, and Paul Haggis was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay award.

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Picture Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Won
Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Won
Best Actor Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Editing Joel Cox Nominated
ACE Eddie Best Editing Nominated
Amanda Award Best Foreign Feature Film Clint Eastwood Nominated
American Screenwriters Association Discover Screenwriting Award Paul Haggis Won
Art Directors Guild Award Best Contemporary Feature Film Henry Bumstead
Jack G. Taylor Jr.
Nominated
Billie Award Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Nominated
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Best Director Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Nominated
Casting Society of America Award Best Casting for Feature Film: Drama Phyllis Huffman Nominated
César Award Best Foreign Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing Won
Director's Guild of Great Britain Outstanding Director Nominated
ESPY Award Best Sports Movie Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress Won
Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Best Motion Picture - Drama Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Nominated
Best Original Score Clint Eastwood Nominated
Grammy Award Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Award Best Sound Editing Alar Robert Murray
Bub Asman
David Grimaldi
Jason King
Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Female Performance Hilary Swank Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Won
National Board of Review Award Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Nominated
Best Director Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Actor Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Director Won
Producers Guild of America Award Best Theatrical Motion Picture Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Actor Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Paul Haggis Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Won
Best Cast Nominated

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD on July 12, 2005, and all editions of the Region 1 DVD, except for the "Deluxe Edition", came with a paperback copy of the book Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner. An HD DVD release was issued on April 18, 2006.[24] The Blu-ray Disc version was released on November 14, 2006.[25] It was the first Best Picture winner released on either high-definition optical disc format in the U.S.; it and Unforgiven were the only ones released in the U.S. on HD DVD prior to the first one released in the U.S. on Blu-ray, Crash.[24][25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Eliot (2009), p. 309
  2. ^ a b c Hughes, p. 156
  3. ^ Hughes, p. 157
  4. ^ Fold 3 WWII Crew photos
  5. ^ Hughes, p. 160
  6. ^ "Million Dollar Baby (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  7. ^ Million Dollar Baby (2004). Rotten Tomatoes.
  8. ^ Million Dollar Baby. Metacritic.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (7 January 2005). "Million Dollar Baby". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  10. ^ Medved, Michael. "My 'Million Dollar' Answer," OpinionJournal/Dow Jones & Company, Inc. (17 February 2005). Archived at TownHall.com.
  11. ^ Million Dollar Missed Opportunity
  12. ^ The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: How Dirty Harry Turned Commie
  13. ^ "Movie & TV News @ IMDb.com - Studio Briefing - 27 January 2005". Internet Movie Database. 25 January 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  14. ^ Roger Ebert (29 January 2005). "Critics have no right to play spoiler". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  15. ^ IrishGaelicTranslator.com. Million Dollar Baby movie
  16. ^ a b Wes Davis Fighting Words. New York Times, 26 February 2005
  17. ^ Eliot (2009), p. 311
  18. ^ Roger Ebert (14 December 2004). ":: rogerebert.com :: Reviews :: Million Dollar Baby (xhtml)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  19. ^ Susan Wloszczyna (23 January 2005). "USATODAY.com - 'Million Dollar' mystery". USA Today. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  20. ^ Jeffrey Overstreet (7 January 2005). "Million Dollar Baby". Christianity Today. Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  21. ^ Mark Moring (18 January 2005). "Spoil the Ending?". Christianity Today. Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  22. ^ Michael Atkinson (13 December 2004). "Aging Bull". The Village Voice. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  23. ^ Ian Grey (12 January 2005). "Kid Gloves". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  24. ^ a b Historical HD DVD Release Dates, High-Def Digest, accessed 12 March 2012
  25. ^ a b Historical Blu-ray Release Dates, High-Def Digest, accessed 12 March 2012
Bibliography

External links[edit]