Million Dollar Baby questions (SPOILERS)

Questions, all of which will be in spoiler boxes.

  1. Did Maggie actually win her last fight? Her mother says that she lost, but it appears to me that she won or was on her way to winning by decision.

  2. Was the Blue Baron’s last punch thrown after the bell? I believe that is the case.

  3. In a real world scenario, could the Blue Baron ever be brought up on criminal charges for what she did, or would she be shielded by laws protecting boxers?

Non-spoiler question: So what did others think of this film? Deserving of its praise?

I saw this a few weeks ago and loved it. A wonderful job of developing the characters and that happens to be what I notice most in a movie. I liked how even though some characters spent less time on screen (Morgan Freeman) they still had their own role. Were he to be nominated, Mr. Freeman would be in the supporting actor category but I don’t really think that is what he is.

I don’t know enough about boxing to answer question 1 but I don’t think it was covered other than what we saw on the screen at the time and what her mother said.

  1. From what I remember, yes

  2. I’m not a lawyer but I sort of equate it to the Todd Bertuzzi situation. If she did hit her after the bell I would think she would get some minor legal hassle as it was clearly an attempt to injure that was against the rules of the sport.

I suppose we will get more comments after today since the movie is opening in more cities and on more screens today.

Has this film gone unseen by the SDMB or did I miss other threads on it?

I just did a search on, and it doesn’t appear that the movie is playing anywhere within 40 miles of me. And I’m in a fairly decent sized city (San Diego).

You may need to give it a little more time so that more theaters are playing it and more of us can see it. I read an article in Newsweek this week, and they couldn’t stop fawning over Swank’s performance.

The film hasn’t even opened in San Diego yet? Wow. Just when do they plan to go nationwide with this?

Friday was the first day the film went from being shown in three theaters in L.A. and into general release throughout the area.

So I would have thought it would have made it to San Diego too.

It is showing in Orange County. But I hear that Anaheim is the same as Los Angeles now.

I saw it today and I thought it was extremely well done. Although Hillary Swank and Morgan Freeman gave very good performances, I couldn’t get over the brilliance of Clint Eastwood. I’m not really an Eastwood fan, nor can I speak to the quality of his direction, other than to say that it was a very good, deeply emotional movie, but his acting was something spectacular. He really captured the soul of his character. I loved the way he used his own age and everything that is etched on his face as part of the story.

I’m going to use a spoiler box to discuss the ending of the movie, just in case anyone is using this thread to decide whether to see it (I say, “yes!”)

[spoiler]My one problem with the film was the ending – or really everything after that last punch. It was so damn depressing, particularly because I have a hard time with that take on quadriplegia and euthanasia. But for what it was, the writing and the acting were superb. I was also very impressed that Eastwood had such a different take on a boxing movie. Earlier, I had been thinking that there are really only two possible endings – the big win, or the loss after a fight well fought and lessons learned. Then I considered that Eastwood would probably do something I hadn’t thought of, and I was right.

As for the OP’s questions, my take is that the Blue Baron probably ended up being disqualified, making Maggie the winner. Since the Blue Baron did hit Maggie after the bell, she certainly faced some disciplinary action from the Boxing Commission. I don’t know if there would have been criminal penalties as well. I was disappointed that the film didn’t address this issue at all – I was waiting to hear that the Baron had been banned from boxing or something. Also, why was there no media coverage or public response to what happened (on live T.V.)? If a popular female fighter with a big (Irish?) fan base was paralyzed by an illegal punch, it would be big news in and out of the sporting world.[/spoiler]
Nitpicks aside, a very fine movie, with an Oscar-caliber performance from Clint.

I’ve been listening to Michael Medved on the radio lately (only in short doses!), just because i like to be enraged, I suppose. Anyway, his review of this film was quite negative because it was basically just pro-euthanasia propaganda, in his opinion of course. I have no plans for seeing this film, as Mystic River, which was a fine film, made me want to go shoot myself it was so depressing, and this one sounds even moreso.

So, spoil it for me, what exactly is the euthanasia “propaganda” all about?

Hillary Swank’s character was punched after the bell and was quite unprepared for it. Clint had just placed the stool in the corner and was about to set it upright when Hillary caught the seat of the stool with her neck and broke it. After the doctors determine she won’t ever walk again, Hillary wants to die basically because she couldn’t box anymore. It’s important to note that Hillary’s character had a supremely shitty life before boxing and boxing is what truly made her happy. The movie supported euthanasia only in the case of her character and I’m not even sure it truely did that as when Clint lost Hillary, that was basically the end of him.

Amplifying the comments above:

The movie is definitely not pro-euthanasia. Clint Eastwood’s character clearly struggles with the issue. It is tearing him up. He seeks guidance from a priest, who tells him “No, you can’t do it. It will be the worst thing you ever do.” Yet, he does it anyway and it is indeed the worst thing he has ever done. He completely drops out of society because of it.

[spoiler]Maggie was definitely hit after the bell had sounded. If the fight had continued, no doubt the champ would have lost another point and could have been disqualified at the ref’s discretion. If the champ was not disqualified, it would have gone down in the books as a “no decision.”

Maggie’s mother, awful creep that she was, probably considered it a “loss” because Maggie was the one carried out of the ring.

I think it is asinine to interpret the film as a pro-euthanasia statement. When they took Maggie’s leg, they also took what little glimmer of hope hope she had left. Frankie was tortured by his decision, in effect he gave up his own life by carrying out her last wish (pretty much as the Priest had warned him).[/spoiler]

I thought it was a great movie. It’s a reminder that simple stories about average people can still move an audience in a way that “blockbusters” with nine-figure budgets rarely do. Fantastic piece of filmmaking by Eastwood. I think it is worth noting that he also wrote the music for the movie, which was used quite effectively to complement the story.

I really liked this movie, but had some serious problems with the ending. I work with patients with new spinal cord injuries and some of the details were just wrong. First, if she wanted the vent turned off, she could have petitioned to have it turned off. She was clearly competent, and while it would have taken some time and going through ethics committees, etc, she could have done it (or he could have hired a lawyer for her to do it). Secondly, amputation for a pressure ulcer is extremely rare and is never the first option. Also, you don’t get a pressure ulcer on your calf. They happen on places that get pressure, like heels and shoulder blades. Most importantly, though, I hate, hate, hate the implication that everyone who is quadriplegic wants to die. Some (a very small minority) do, but if you watch the two latest movies about quadriplegia, you would think they are all just dying to die. Not so. This contributes to the crap that was spread around after Christopher Reeve died, about how he was better off. That is not what he said when he was alive.

Cool! A whole thread entirely within spoiler boxes…

[spoiler]My take on the decision (and I am not a boxing expert, etc etc.) is that she did lose the fight, as her mother said. The ref was looking the other way when she was hit, so even though he had admonished The Blue Bomber that “if she pulled that crap again” he would disqualify her, since he didn’t see the blow he would not have disqualified her on the spot. Remember Eastwwod’s instruction to Swank during the previous round, where he told her to keep nailing her opponent in the solar plexus (pound her in the ass, or something to that effect). That was illegal too, but when Hillary asked about that, Eastwood told her to just keep herself between her opponent and the ref and she would be alright; in other words, as long as the ref doesn’t see it, no foul. I think it is partially because of those illegal blows by Swank that The Blue Bomber is so incensed that she throws the after bell blow, but it would have been in character for her to do that anyways.

Everything else I can think of is foreshadowed in the film, so I think this follows suit. We’re told early on that the Blue Bomber is the dirtiest fighter out there. Swank is told repeatedly to “protect herself” at ALL TIMES. The discussion of the dog being euthanized. They all foreshadowed later events. So I think Eastwood telling Swank to hit illegally and it’s fine as long as the ref doesn’t see you applies to the fight decision as well. In addition, I think if she had won the fight, someone would have mentioned it, or at least called her “Champ” to cheer her up. Nope. The mother said she lost, and no one contradicts that. Case closed.

In reality, perhaps there is some sort of appeal process for an egregious breach of the rules not caught by the ref, but I don’t know this for a fact, or how likely such an appeal would be.[/spoiler]

And to Brynda’s concern, I don’t get the idea that everyone thinks this is what all, or even most, quadriplegics think. But a normal quadriplegic who manages to go on with their life and be productive does not a dramatic movie make. I’m sure there has been one or two where the amazing perserverence and accomplishments can translate into a heartwarming film, but for heavy drama these life and death decisions are quite compelling in a dramatic story arc. We realize we are seeing a movie, and the characters do NOT represent the norm. It is to see extra-ordinary characters that we go to the movies in the first place. I know there are exceptions, but clearly those choosing to end their lives are different from the average person.

Since these don’t deal with plot points, I don’t have to use spoiler boxes, but I did find some negative reviews about this film by David Edelstein in Slate and Charles Taylor in Salon.

Both found the film a bit hackneyed.

It should be a fun race for Best Picture this year between Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator.


you are right, of course, for people who are as smart as you. Dunno about others. I was tired of hearing what I mentioned about Christopher Reeve, and I even saw it here on the dope, among people who should know better.

Well, since it says “SPOILERS” in the title, I’m not boxing anything. It makes for such a difficult thread to read.

Anyway, saw it, liked it.

Morgan Freeman was great. Real simple performance, he created a character without any kind of “caricature” in a role where others would have done it.

While I really believed the characters, and loved the acting and writing, I suppose I didn’t really didn’t get a lump in my throat over Maggie because the movie was somewhat manipulative.

What gets me is that a movie like this is as subversive of the church as anything I’ve ever seen and there’s no big uproar over it. The church couldn’t have possibly been presented as more neutered an ineffective, stuck on its own dogma with no place in modern society at all(*). Not just in terms of the Maggie decision, but Clint’s life as a whole. Just like Clint, though, to do it completely understated, slip it in under the radar.

Sure, Clint withdrew, but you still got the feeling he and Maggie were much more at peace than if she had stayed alive. He really couldn’t go back to boxing again, but I thought that was also a case of he just didn’t know how to make decisions, and he was old. It wasn’t just because of his Maggie decision. The fighter he “protects” becomes Champ. The fighter he gets the shot for gets paralyzed. He can’t win.

Also, a great boxing movie. The gym was a chracter itself. I thought “Danger” was a little overdone, but that would be my only complaint. The other characters around the edges were really well done. Fight scenes are tough to do. Non fight fans don’t really want to see “real” boxing and fight fans know that what they like about boxing can’t be captured by actors on film. But these were good. They got right to the point, raced through the progression, and looked more realistic than most. You still had the “every punch is a powerhouse” syndrome though.

Lots of great details in this too. . .having the family show up at the hospital in Disney clothes was such a perfect touch.

Great direction. Great acting. Great movie.

(*) My opinion of the film’s view, not necessarily my opinion.

That would be a terrible thing to imply - and yes, some people say it and it’s offensive - but I don’t think they did. I felt it was justified for her character, who realized she’d got what she wanted out of life, and that’s the only quadriplegic the movie was concerned with.

Oh, and to the OP:

  1. Doesn’t matter that the ref didn’t see it, I’m sure Billie would’ve been disqualified. Even failing that I figure the incident would’ve been investigated because it was obvious what happened, with evidence on video, but I’m probably thinking too much about it.

  2. Yes

  3. It’s possible she could have been. I think Todd Bertuzzi or Marty McSorley are good comparisons.

I thought this was an excellent movie that does deserve the praise it’s getting.

I could be wrong. but I believe I saw the championship belt on Frank’s(Clint’s)
shelf of trophies at the end of the film during a slow pan around the office. There is a belt that looks a lot like the belt that was in the Blue Bombers corner at the beginning of the fight.

Oh, no way would Blue Bell be brought up on charges.

The proper comparisons are Tyson biting Holyfield (no criminal charges), or the 8 billion actual cases of fighters hitting after the bell, none of whom have been charged with crimes. Just because Maggie fall down and go boom doesn’t make her actions more reprehensible.

Even punch-throwing melees after the bell or at press conferences rarely result in charges.

That does bring up one other thing, though. Clint encouraged his fighter to cheap shot Blue Bell. I imagine he got another load of guilt from that, even though Blue Bell was a cheap shot artist to begin with.

Also, keep in mind there have been several cases of boxers being beat to death in the ring and none of them have been charged with a crime. As a matter of fact, there’s a documentary that I think is playing at Sundance about a particularly famous one. . .a guy named Paret was beat to death by Emile Griffith (I think on live TV). Some say Griffith was angered over Paret questioning his sexuality. Most say the ref didn’t get in quick enough.