Million Dollar Baby Short Story
January 18, 2005 12:06 AM   Subscribe

Everyone is talking about Clint Eastwood's new movie, Million Dollar Baby (trailer). What you may not know however is that the movie was based on a short story in a book by the name of Rope Burns: Stories From The Corner by the late F.X. Toole (aka Jerry Boyd). The book by the way was called, "...the best boxing short fiction ever written," by James Ellroy of L.A. Confidential fame. Back in 2000 Toole gave an amazing interview on Fresh Air about spending the last 20 years of his life as a cut man and the last 40 years of writing while trying to overcome his fear of rejection before getting his first book published at age 70.
posted by pwb503 (19 comments total)
The title still stinks.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:19 AM on January 18, 2005

I mean really! "Million Dollar Baby"? Who the hell named it? Was it the guy who named "Everybody Loves Ramon"? What the hell are they thinking?
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:34 AM on January 18, 2005

Everyone is talking about Clint Eastwood's new movie


posted by milkman at 12:35 AM on January 18, 2005

"Michael Moore and I actually have a lot in common - we both appreciate living in a country where everyone is talking about new films."
posted by three blind mice at 12:42 AM on January 18, 2005

I gotta say I agree that the title turned me off immediately, and only after someone told me that no, Bruce Willis does not do voiceover for an infant and no, Tom Selleck, Steve Gutenberg, and Ted Danson aren't involved in the project.

Seriously, it's a great film that I loved and the title is the only thing I can pull up as something I didn't like. Something like "on the ropes" would have been much, much better. Especially when there's a movie out at the same time involving babies and all my worst first impressions of baby films.
posted by mathowie at 12:45 AM on January 18, 2005

The title's horrible, and the movie really never makes sense of it. The movie, however, was probably the best I've seen all year (2004 included). I was cheering for Eternal Sunshine, or maybe Sideways; now I cheer for MDB.

The short story's not as good as the movie. But it's probably worth sitting down at a B&N for 20 minutes or so to read.
posted by graventy at 1:30 AM on January 18, 2005

the movie really never makes sense of it

Didn't Morgan Freeman's character call her that before Eastwood's character takes her on? He told Frankie to train her, because she could be his "million dollar baby" and have a shot at the title (and make some decent purse money)?
posted by mathowie at 1:50 AM on January 18, 2005

I love it that Warner Bros -- no, excuse me, the TimeWarner Corp -- didn't want to make it. just like they didn't want to make Mystic River. Eastwood had to raise half the (very small) budget himself.
Phantom of the Opera and Racing Stripes got an enthusiastic green light by the same "media" conglomerate, instead.

MDB (bad title, but Rope Burns is pretty lame as well) is very likely the best American movie of 2004, vastly superior to the extremely overrated Sideways (which isn't even half as good as Election). Eastwood is an American Master.

those who liked MDB should see Fat City, if they haven't already. the best American movie about boxing, ever. (yes, that includes Rocky V). Gardner's book isn't bad, either. it is, like, a masterpiece.
posted by matteo at 2:56 AM on January 18, 2005

I heard the interview on the radio, and I was amazed to hear that he gave it when he was 70 years old and had boxed himself. He seemed too cogent. I guess when I hear "boxer" I can only imagine Mike Tyson or Rocky from the movies stumbling through their words. Anyway, great interview.
posted by zsazsa at 6:09 AM on January 18, 2005

There's nothing wrong with the title... jeez. Much better than The Weather Man, The Aviator, The Village, The Forgotten, The Matrix, The Machinist, The Pacifier, The Interpreter, The Incredibles, The Ring, The Ring II, The Devil's Rejects, The One and 'The Three' written by Charlie Kaufman's twin brother Donald.
posted by disgruntled at 7:02 AM on January 18, 2005

Eastwood is impressive as hell. If you check out his credentials at imdb, he's done a hell of a lot of work over the course of his lifetime. I'm always impressed with people like him who actually contribute to society.

I like the title "the machinist."

It's interesting how many short stories are written each year but how few ever evolve past being short stories. "The Body," by Stephen King, is perhaps the most memorable story that's been adapted to film (Stand by Me), but overall they rarely graduate to the silver screen. I think this is, in large part, due to the fact that short stories are generally very dark and bleak. John Updike edited the Best American Short Stories of the Centuary and ended with the story "The Half-Skinned Steer" which was about, you guessed it, a living, half-skinned steer. Talk about dark...
posted by craven_morhead at 7:58 AM on January 18, 2005

Clint Eastwood, as a director, is like Ron Howard finally grown up. But that's not a compliment.

I have to agree that the title of this movie is so appallingly bad that it almost removes the film from consideration in my mind. Anyway, I find boxing films very tedious. I do admire anyone who perserveres to get published at 70, though.
posted by rushmc at 8:38 AM on January 18, 2005

Thanks for the post. I am really looking forward to seeing this movie. The title triggers a constant loop of "Billion Dollar Babies" by Alice Cooper every time I read it, which is kind of annoying.

I guess when I hear "boxer" I can only imagine Mike Tyson or Rocky from the movies stumbling through their words. --zsazsa

Ali was very articulate, and probably still would be, if he'd quit boxing sooner. He's still quite sharp mentally, though. I find the documentary film, When We Were Kings, on Ali's fight with George Foreman in Zaire anything but tedious.

For another articulate and fascinating boxer, see the Ken Burns documentary on Jack Johnson that's on PBS right now. Part 2 airs tonight. Part 1 was excellent.
posted by apis mellifera at 10:38 AM on January 18, 2005

I just can't get over this creeping feeling that it's just a A-List Girlfight..

That's probably just me, though, because I saw Girlfight fairly recently, and the first shot of Michelle Rodriguez glaring up at the camera has seared into my brain as a general guide of all things hot.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:02 AM on January 18, 2005

You might be right, Matt, I probably missed the throwaway line.
As a side note, does Morgan Freeman narrate every movie he's in?
posted by graventy at 1:21 PM on January 18, 2005

"Everyone is talking about Clint Eastwood's new movie"

...or not.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:59 PM on January 18, 2005

"Anyway, I find boxing films very tedious."

Seconds after insulting two Golden Globe winners and lifetime talents, RushMC bravely bashes an entire subject for films, negating any chance that the genre leaves room for an excellent movie.

No comparison of Collateral against Speed 2 for Rush! No recognition of the range between Alien and Alien vs. Predator! Damn the room for individual efforts in a genre! We must categorize! We must generalize!

Stereotype preservers of the world unite!


Honestly, I haven't seen MDB yet, but though I hate watching sports, hate playing sports, and usually hate movies about sports, I'm guessing these critics know what they're talking about, so I'll give it a try.
posted by NickDouglas at 3:37 PM on January 18, 2005

*crawls across the floor, groping for insulin*
posted by squirrel at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2005

negating any chance that the genre leaves room for an excellent movie

I didn't say that. Rocky was pretty good, and I've heard Raging Bull is good. But I'm not motivated to ever see another one.

I'm guessing these critics know what they're talking about, so I'll give it a try.

Ah, I see. Now I understand.
posted by rushmc at 5:22 PM on January 19, 2005

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