Although I hid my eyes and plugged my ears during most of the boxing scenes (extremely violent), Cinderella Man provides a rare but effective glimpse into male heroism.
Case in point: a scene when Braddock accompanies his guilty son to return a stolen salami. They walk home, side by side, in silence. The boy, who has been quiet and tearless through the whole event, blurts out something about one of his friends who has been sent away because his family didn't have enough money for food. Braddock turns to face his son. Without resorting to tirades or shaming, he asks for a promise to uphold one of the family ethics: "We don't ever steal." Then, crouching down, eye-to-eye, he makes a promise of his own: "I will never send you away." The child's tears come then, and his father takes him into his arms and carries him home. Better still, the movie shows Braddock keeping his promise, even when it comes to sacrificing his pride to beg and borrow money.
Another scene that underlines true masculinity is when Braddock refuses to be drawn into a brawl after Max Baer makes an inappropriate comment about Mae, Braddock's wife. Mae (who also models heroic femininity throughout the movie) tosses water in his face. "Now he's letting his wife fight for him," Baer sneers. We hold our breath, waiting for Braddock to let loose and punch his adversary. But retaining the same even, courteous tone of voice, Braddock retorts: "Ain't she something?" He then saunters out of the ballroom, head high and a smile on his face. The true measure of a powerful man — self-restraint during an encounter with a fool.
To learn more about a real hero, visit a website maintained by his grandson. Another interesting factoid is that Braddock's granddaughter plays the part of Mae's grieving neighbor, Sara Wilson.