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a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Less Desirables Movie of the Week. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank.

Per IMDb: “A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.”

Clint Eastwood plays Frankie Dunn, the best “cut man” and manager in the boxing business in Los Angeles. He manages some of the best fighters, works magic in the ring with his cuts and is a feisty old coot but he’s still looking for a championship. HilaryMillion_Dollar_Baby_poster Swank is Maggie Fitzgerald, a middle America amateur boxer with little-to-no (known) skills that comes to L.A. looking for help from Frankie to enhance her chops and get her big-time to become a champion. Frankie isn’t interested because he doesn’t “train girls.” That and she’s already in her 30s so she’s “too old.” Morgan Freeman plays Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris, a gym worker (who also lives in the gym). Eddie gives her advice behind the scenes (behind Frankie’s back) and is her biggest cheerleader. He also doesn’t hold back on taking his own jabs on Frankie, but you can tell they’re old friends, though neither would ever admit it. “Scrap” is also the narrator of the film.

He does take to not only training her but managing her as well. Turns out, what she lacks in skill is more than made up for in natural talent and hard work. She knocks out her opponents in the first round and that creates a problem because no one wants to put their fighter in the ring against her. Frankie moves her up to the next weight class and she does the same thing. He starts getting offers to have her fight big-name international contenders and champions but he turns them down because even though Maggie is so viscious, she has trouble protecting her face. Scrap clandestinely introduces her to Mickey Mack (Bruce MacVittie), a big-time manager who has taken a few other fighters from Frankie. She tells him to bug-off.

Frankie has a very strained relationship with his daughter, Katie, who he writes to often but his letters are always returned marked “return to sender.” Frankie gets Maggie a fight in London. She didn’t fight the champ but she made an impact. She buys a house for her mother and sister back in Missouri and the mother complains because now she’ll lose her welfare. They’re ungrateful biddies.

Eventually, Frankie gets Maggie the title shot against the “dirtiest player in the game,” Billie the “Blue Bear” (Lucia Rijker). It’s a championship match for the ages. What happens in that match? Does she win? And, how does the story go? You’ll have to watch to find out.

I’ve put this film off because, when it came out in 2004, a-holes started blabbing about what happened and the outcome. Why watch it when you already know, right? Well, that’s stupid. It’s never about the ending, it’s about the journey. I’ve had it on DVD for about 10 years, just sitting there, on the shelf, waiting to be watched. It’s a sad piece of work, really. And, the ending, whilst I did know it, wasn’t how I thought it was. It’s on the 400 nominations list for AFI‘s 100 Years… 100 Movies

Clint Eastwood directed, co-produced and scored the film. I said, what!? I’ve always been a fan of the old Eastwood, the spaghetti western “man with no name.” I liked his Dirty Harry days, too. But, in his older years, I was not interested in the films he made. This one included. However, I never looked deep enough into his bio to realize that he was a musician. He’s big into the jazz aspect. He even has an honorary degree Doctor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music, and is an accomplished (obviously) pianist. He also wrote the film scores for Mystic River, Flags of Our Fathers, Grace Is Gone, Changeling, Hereafter and J. Edgar, among others. I was very impressed to find this out. Eastwood was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning four of them: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 91% Fresh with an Audience Score of 90%. The Critics’ Consensus reads like this: “Clint Eastwood’s assured direction – combined with knockout performances from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman – help Million Dollar Baby to transcend its clichés, and the result is deeply heartfelt and moving.” IMDb rates it at 8.1 stars out of 10. This is available only on Netflix‘s DVD.com program. I’m sorry and somewhat ashamed that I waited that long to watch the film. I thought it was a great watch, and like I said, somewhat sad. I rate it 4.25 stars.

Have you seen the film? What did you think? What would you like to read/hear me review? Let me know.

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!

“If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.” – “Scrap Iron” Dupris