Ancient history: Stage Script: Dogs of War

My humble attempt at war commentary. I think this was also inspired by a short play that I read involving suitcases that spoke to each other. In the play, each suitcase had a personality that sort of matched the type/condition of the suitcase. So I thought, I want to do that with dogs.

Dogs of War


Characters:      Tobi: a mangy Border Collie, wears spots

Floyd: a thick, jet-black Labrador

Maya: a scraggly mutt; clothes/colors mismatched

Arbusto: a tall, commanding German Shepherd

Chummy: a fat, ill-disposed Bulldog


Outside in a rural area. Night.

Arbusto: …and when you’ve chased them long enough, they’ll be easy picking. Just make sure you all concentrate on the same one.

Chummy: And the females are less likely to give you a fight.

Arbusto: Yeah, but don’t be afraid to take down a buck if you find one. A few nights ago I watched one mark MY yard. I couldn’t even fix it until morning.

Chummy: And there’ll be more food for all of us!

Arbusto: So there you have it, men. Er, uh… folks.

Chummy: If there’s a repeat of last night, you all better start looking for a new pack.

Arbusto and Chummy exit while Tobi, Floyd, and Maya glance at each other.

Tobi: I’m so tired of running around.

Maya: Every night I think we’ll get a break.

Tobi: But then some other animal gets on Arbusto’s bad side.

Floyd: Listen, Arbusto is right. How would you like it if wild animals were using your yard?

Tobi: Hey, I don’t like it either, but it’s our people that forced them out of the wild in the first place.

Maya: They’re so hard to control. I see new yards popping up all over the place.

Floyd: You know as well as I do, those are mostly Cat-people. No self-respecting Dog would let his person tear down a forest full of animals. That’s just bad food moderation.

Maya: That’s true.

Tobi: You’re both missing the point. The animals feel threatened, so they lash out. Take away the threat, and what happens?

Maya: Just accidents, I guess. Except for the occasional Bad Animal.

Tobi: Exactly. And I think we could all live with that.

Floyd: Are you done with your preaching? You’re hungry aren’t you?

Tobi: God, yes. My person’s put me back on the dry food diet. It’s all I can do to keep it down.

Floyd: Then let’s go. It’ll make the Big Dogs happy.

Maya: He’s right Tobi. We can’t change those things. Let’s just make Arbusto happy.

Tobi: (reluctantly) Alright… lets go.

Lights fade.


Scene 2: Spotlight on Tobi, Floyd, and Maya, who appear to be crouching around and feasting on a large animal.

Tobi: Floyd, you have got to stop chasing the deer the second you see it. I’m the herder. I’ll tire it out and bring it around to you. Then YOU do the dirty work.

Floyd: I can’t help chasing. It’s in my nature.

Tobi: Well it’s pretty damn stupid to have the big, dumb, slow one chasing after a lightning-quick animal.

Floyd: Watch it, buddy. We got it, didn’t we?

Tobi: Only because I told Maya to come at it from the other side.

Maya: Hey! I was gonna do that anyway.

Tobi: (smiling at her) You did great. You can be a real bitch when you want to.

Maya: (smiling back) Awe, thanks Tobi. You know, you just looked adorable with your fur all ruffled when Floy…

Floyd: (sarcastically) Great! Puppy love… You know, why don’t you two let me know when you grow up. I deserve a little credit here. I mean, I did spot the thing.

Tobi: (laughing) Haha, poor Floyd. You know I’m just pulling your tail.

Arbusto and Chummy creep onstage. Chummy approaches the group.

Floyd: Well, when you and Maya are done sniffing each others’ butts, how bout a little back scratching. I’ve got a big knot from all that running.

Tobi: Ha, that’s what your person is for. (pause) Sh… Did you hear something?

Chummy: A postman could’ve snuck up on you fools.

Tobi: Ah! I thought I smelled compost. Been rolling around in the manure again, Chummy?

Maya: Tobi, don’t.

Chummy: Better listen to her, bones. I could tear you to shreds.

Floyd: Yeah, and what would you do to me?

Arbusto: Well, well, well. (all slink back as Arbusto moves past Chummy and stares them down) Started the feast without me, did you? Very bold of you. Lets see what we have here.

Chummy: Probably nothing but a fawn.

Arbusto pushes past and looks down at the animal on the floor.

Arbusto: Well, Chummy, I think you owe our friends an apology. This is the very deer that soiled my lawn not two days ago.

Chummy: Hmphh.

Arbusto: Well, friends. I think I may have some work a little more befitting of your prowess. Listen closely.

(all lean in as lights fade)


Scene 3: Next night. A white wooden fence.

Tobi: I can’t believe we’re out here. This is crazy.

Maya: Deer are one thing, but bulls? This is getting dangerous. Even with Floyd here.

Floyd: I’m not scared of any cows. Slow as molasses.

Tobi: They aren’t that slow. See how it feels to have one chasing you down a hill. Those suckers can really get going.

Maya: Oh, wow. And all that momentum… If they fell they’d roll you right over. Even a big guy like you would be a pancake, Floyd.

Floyd: We’ll see about that. I bet they can’t turn very quick.

Maya: Look at those horns! They could impale any one of us with a flick of the neck

Floyd: So stay away from the horns, doofus. I thought you were some kind of tough bitch.

Tobi: Floyd, it’s not the danger I’m worried about here. Does this feel right to you?

Floyd: Sure, I guess… Arbusto said he didn’t find that buck sooner because it was hiding out on this farm. They deserve it.

Tobi: Do they? Do you really think those cattle had any control over a farm this big?

Maya: I never thought of it that way…

Floyd: Stop with your idealism, Tobi. These are Bad Animals.

Maya: I don’t remember them doing anything to us. Or Arbusto. How could they? They’re inside the fence.

Tobi: Exactly. Don’t you see, Floyd? Arbusto just wants the land so he can run around as much as he wants without being bothered. It’s all about power and greed.

Floyd: No. Chummy told us they have an escape plan.

Maya: That’s right! Tobi, what if they have an escape plan?

Tobi: Then nothing. They have never tried to hurt us before. Why would they now?

Maya: But they never got out before!

Floyd: Don’t you realize how much damage a herd of cattle could do if they were let free? They could destroy each one of our yards. And then they could destroy another pack’s yards. And another’s.

Tobi: Yeah, I heard the speech. Thanks for the recap.

Maya: Tobi, he’s just telling the truth.

Tobi: No. He’s telling us what Arbusto and Chummy think. How would they know about an escape plan anyway?

Maya: Well, Chummy said they had spies in the farm.

Tobi: Spies! Who, the sheep? And they would tell us the truth after Arbusto ravaged a whole herd of them last year?

Floyd: You think they’re setting us up?

Tobi: I think Arbusto doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about! Like I said before, it’s all about power!

Maya: He’ll exile us if we don’t do it, Tobi. Look what happened to Comet last month.

Floyd: Oh, I do miss her. She was so beautifully stubborn.

Tobi: Maybe I’d rather be exiled! This isn’t right. We can’t just start killing cattle because we think they might be dangerous.

Floyd: They probably are dangerous. They were pretty close to the sheep Arbusto slaughtered. Sometimes they even roamed the same field.

Tobi: So one sin begets another. And here we are, about to begin the process of wiping out thirty cattle, proof be damned.

Floyd: It’s for the pack, Tobi. It’s for the pack, that’s what he said.

Tobi: (reluctantly) Alright. I’m coming with you. Not because I think this is for the pack. Because I don’t want to see you dead when I wake up tomorrow and go out to get my person’s paper.

Floyd: You’re a true patriot. You’ll see. We’re doing the right thing. (walks ahead)

Maya: (to Tobi) I don’t know if you are right or not, but I really admire you right now. It takes a lot of guts to say what you really mean, especially to a bull-headed dog like Floyd.

Tobi: (smiling wistfully) We have to have an opinion. To blindly follow without questioning is worse than agreeing with Arbusto altogether. I just hope Floyd realizes it before it’s too late.

Maya: Hey, don’t talk like that. It’ll turn out alright.

Tobi: I always feel better with you here with me, Maya. You could brighten up a piece of coal.

Maya: (trying to hide a big smile) Oh, that was so bad.

Tobi: You liked it.

Fade to black


Scene 4: Spotlight on Floyd and Maya on the left side of the stage, standing over a downed bull.

Maya: Floyd, we did it! I don’t believe it; that was so exciting. First we were chasing one, then another one was chasing me, and POW! You come out of nowhere and take out its back legs! I thought I was done for.

Floyd: Tobi was right though, that was much harder than I though it would be. Those animals are a thing to behold when they get moving. Frankly, we were in over our heads. Why would Arbusto take a chance like this?

Maya: It’s kind of like he didn’t think it out at all

Floyd: Scary that we’re taking orders from someone so short-sighted. What if Tobi was right about everything else?

Maya: He’s pretty sharp. (looks suddenly concerned) By the way, where is Tobi? We broke apart when that bull started chasing us. He was barking like crazy, trying to get it to follow him.

(lights rise on the rest of the stage, revealing Tobi, covered in blood)

Floyd: Oh, god…

Maya: Tobi!

(both rush over to him, where he moves weakly)

Maya: What happened!?

Tobi: Farmer… shot… glad you’re okay.

Floyd: I knew that POW! was more than broken legs. I’m so sorry, buddy. You were right. Arbusto didn’t think this out at all. You were right about the whole thing… I;m so sorry. I should’ve listened.

Tobi: Stop… oaf… doing… thought right…

Maya: You’re going to be alright, Tobi. We’ll get you back to your people. I love you; I’m not going to lose you now. (looks hopefully at Floyd, who looks away)

Tobi: (smiles weakly) Oh… that… was… so bad…

Fade to black


Scene 5: Next night. Spotlight on Arbusto, lying alone on the ground, slumbering. Floyd enters.

Floyd: Wake up you son of a bitch!

Arbusto: (yawning) Oh… Aren’t we all

Floyd: This is no game. Tobi is dead and you are going to pay for it.

Arbusto: (laughs haughtily)  Well then, come on you overgrown beast.

Floyd and Arbusto begin fighting. Floyd pins Arbusto on the ground with a hand(paw) raised, ready to strike. Chummy enters.

Chummy: (snarling) You’d better drop that paw unless you want to lose it.

Floyd’s shoulders slump, visibly defeated. He jumps off Arbusto and turns to face them both as Arbusto slowly rises beside Chummy

Floyd: (smiling now) Nothing like a fair fight.

Chummy: You’re done for, lout.

Arbusto: Wait. (to Floyd) You insolent brute. It takes sacrifice to protect a pack. A mangy herding dog like Tobi is an insignificant loss. It was for the greater good. You don’t know anything about what it takes to lead. Now, you can fight, or you can leave forever. What’ll it be?

Floyd: What good is a world where I have to watch my back every time I go outside?

Arbusto: You won’t have to. We’ll destroy the entire farm and set up a republic. The world will be peaceful.

Floyd: Ha. What will I tell my pups when they ask what happened to all of the innocent cattle who died here?

Chummy: They were planning an escape and harbored the very deer that was terrorizing Arbusto’s yard!

Arbusto and Chummy stare at Floyd, waiting for submission. Suddenly, Maya leaps out of the shadows and tackles Chummy. Chummy, outweighing Maya by quite a bit, quickly turns the tables and bites at Maya’s face. She goes limp.

Floyd: Maya! No!

Floyd brushes past Arbusto and knocks Chummy aside.

Chummy: The price of disobedience.

Arbusto: This all could have been avoided.

Floyd: You’re right. This could have been avoided. But you insisted on blindly and ignorantly stabbing at power. You care nothing for your pack. You only care about yourself. I’m leaving and taking Maya with me.

Arbusto: Go! You of no faith! You are no patriot!

Floyd: Good luck defending yourself against the herd without anyone but Chubby here to protect you. You’ve turned the world against you, Arbusto. I hope you’re ready.

Fade to black as Floyd carries Maya off the stage





















Ancient history: Stage play script: Too Late

This was an exercise in creating a one-scene “silent etude,” a stage play script in which no words are spoken and everything is communicated via the movements of the characters on stage.

Two chairs sit side-by-side onstage. Matt and Brittany walk around opposite sides, open imaginary doors, and sit down. Matt moves as if to turn the ignition. He begins driving motions with his hands while his feet push imaginary pedals.

Brittany sniffles and wipes her mascara-smeared face as she gazes to the right.

Matt fidgets uncomfortably. He reaches at the center console. Coldplay comes on. He abruptly reaches back and the music stops.

Brittany glances at him hopefully. Matt stares straight ahead, jaw clenched.

Brittany lets out a sob and covers her eyes with her left hand.

Matt begins a rolling motion near his left shin. Brittany begins to shiver and glares at him angrily. 

Matt rolls the other way and looks at her, annoyed.

He reaches toward the center console again. The Carpenters. He quickly reaches and the music stops again. He slumps in his seat, props up his left elbow and holds his head up.

Brittany continues to sob. She leans forward with her head in both hands. Matt ignores her.

A sign is lowered onto the stage beside them. Free Choice Medical Clinic. Matt presses his foot to the floor, and pushes an imaginary gearshift into park. Matt moves to his left and stands up. Brittany doesn’t follow. He glares at her until she finally does. She walks behind him off the stage.

Ancient History: Short Story: Swing Away


This story was an assignment in my Southern Writers English course at Westminster College. It was a two-part assignment. Part one was to carry a camera around with me and try my hand at taking pretty photos. Behold the spectacular quality of my camera and camerawork below. Anyway, part two was to find inspiration from one of my pictures and create a short story to go with it. Here it is.

Digital Camera


That swing still has an aura, even after thirty years. Real or imagined, everything just seems… lighter when I’m there. To you it may be just some broken down old swing, but to me, that swing is the beginning and the end of the world.

At first it was just my swing. Dad built it for me himself, so I could play and watch for him to come home from a long day of work at the farm. He was a teacher, but he took care of the farm in the summer. He said working hard all year kept him young. I just loved sitting there in the shade by myself, swinging lazily as the cows slowly moved and laid down in the sun. Sometimes I’d watch with jealousy as they waded into the pond to cool off in the muggy heat of a Western Pennsylvania August.

Even then, I knew I was lucky. Most kids had to wait all day for their fathers to come home from work, exhausted from another day at the Mill, or drained from the toils of the office. I got to see my dad all day in the summer, as he painted a new coat of deep red on the barn, or drove the tractor back and forth through the fields, cutting down row after row of hay. Every time I saw his blue ’57 Chevy rolling back down the road, I rushed inside. He must have been so tired in the evenings, but he never failed to give me a big smile and hold me on his knee. “How was your day, Maggie?” he’d ask, knowing full well that I’d been on the swing watching the farm since he’d been gone.

“Pretty good, daddy,” was my canned reply.

When my little brother was born, I was afraid to lose this attention. I didn’t hide it very well either. When Mom told me she was pregnant, I tearfully ran straight to my room and threw my head under my heavy down pillow. Mom lifted the pillow from my head and looked knowingly at me with her deep brown eyes. “You know, Maggie, it’s going to be just like having a new friend who looks up to you.”

“It’s gonna take all your attention,” I said.

“Don’t be silly, Maggie. We’ll love you every bit as much when she gets here. Look at it this way: you’ll have someone to play with all the time when I’m busy, and you’ll get to hold her, and look after her, and she’s going to look up to you for advice.” At this I smiled. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be an older sister after all.

As it turned out, Mom had a boy. They named him Kevin. True to Mom’s word, I got to hold and try to feed Kevin when he was just a cute little baby. As he started to get older we became nearly inseparable. In the winter we’d walk past the swing with our wooden toboggan on the way to the steep hill of the farm across the street. Usually I pushed, jumping on the back just in time, as snow flew by us in the wind. Occasionally, Kevin asked me to ride in the front, because it was “so much faster with me weighing down the front of the sled.” I punched him in the arm but complied, knowing he meant nothing by it.

In the summer, we both went out to the old swing to watch Dad work; picking corn, or mucking out the wagon that the cows ate hay from in the winter months. I tried to tell Kevin about the world, me at the wise old age of 12, while Kevin asked me again and again to push him higher.

“I wanna touch the sky,” he’d say, short blonde hair blowing in the wind. “Don’cha wish you could fly?”

Ignoring his question, I chose to impart some recently learned wisdom. “When you get to sixth grade, things are different. Boys and girls hafta sit at different sides of the table.”

“Mom and dad don’t sit at different sides of the table.”

“That’s cuz they’re married, stupid. When you’re married you’re allowed again.”

“Oh.” He looked out at the farm with Dad’s piercing blue eyes, working it over in his head. “Things must get confusing when you’re older.”

“Yep, but that’s why you have me to look after you.” Dad was coming home now, so I gave him one giant push. I had to dive out of the way at the last second to avoid a swing in the face. Kevin jumped off and we both lay on the ground, giggling and holding our sides as if they were about to burst open.

I wish that summer could have lasted forever. He never lived through another.

That fall, Kevin began to get weak. One night in October, Mom and Dad watched him nervously as he pushed away another plate of food. Having barely taken three bites, Kevin pronounced himself full.

“Honey, you have to eat. You’re never going to feel stronger if you don’t. Food gives you energy,” Mom insisted.

“I don’t feel good, mom. I was hungry earlier, but I can’t eat anymore,” Kevin replied.

Mom frowned at Dad. They got up from the table and went into the next room. We could hear their muffled voices.

“What do you think they’re talking about in there?” He asked.

“Probably how you’re being such a pain in the butt, complaining all the time when you won’t even eat.”

“I’m just so tired, Mags.”

“Tell you what. If you take two more bites, I’ll throw the rest away and tell Mom and Dad that you finished and went to bed.”

“Thanks Maggie.”

He walked out just as Mom and Dad came back into the kitchen. Mom looked like she was crying. Dad looked flushed. Both of them looked relieved when I told them Kevin finished before he went to sleep.

Two weeks later, Kevin and I were in the back seat of Dad’s Chevrolet, while Mom and Dad rode silently up front. Normally our car rides were fun. We played “I Spy,” and “Categories,” laughing and arguing about the validity of each other’s contributions. This ride was silent, morbid. Dad clutched the wheel tightly and stared at the road while Mom watched him, occasionally glancing back at Kevin, who sat diagonal from her.

Kevin’s pallor had visibly whitened in the past month, though it was hard to tell because everyone was losing their tans. He stared out the window as we passed new churches and houses; they were springing up where there had only been trees before.

“Where are we going, again?” I asked. I had a short attention span.

Exasperated, Mom sighed. “To Dr. Baker’s office. He wants to take a look at Kevin.”

Five minutes later, we were there. Dr. Baker’s office was an addition to the Baker family home. His three-story house had white siding and a wrap-around porch. Directly in front of the stoop, a heavy wooden door led into the house. We walked past it to the opposite side of the porch and opened a white door with a square window.

Dr. Baker sat inside, waiting for us. He was a tall, thin man with a bushy, white mustache that nearly covered his mouth. The mustache gave his face a sad look that belied his generally jovial manner. Kevin was directed to a wooden table with an afghan laid across it. After a series of tests that I didn’t really understand, Dr. Baker very seriously asked Kevin and I to wait inside the house while he talked to Mom and Dad.

When the three of them joined us in the house, Mom was crying. Dad, who never cries, looked on the verge of tears, and Dr. Baker looked sadder than ever. Dad and Dr. Baker sat down on a plaid couch opposite us, while Mom sat next to Kevin with her arm around his shoulders. Dr. Baker began to explain to Kevin that he had Leukemia.

Kevin took it all in like a champion. He looked very scared in Dr. Baker’s house, and continued to for some time afterward, but I never saw him cry. At the time, I thought he didn’t understand. In fact, I don’t think he ever understood; not the way Mom and Dad and I comprehended the situation. On the other hand, maybe it is more appropriate to say that we never knew what was going on the way that Kevin understood.

In the next few months, Kevin became increasingly bed-ridden. Mom and Dad stopped sending him to school after Christmas break, afraid that he might catch something and become even more ill. I knew he was lonely, so I picked out books at school that I thought he’d like and brought them home to read to him. His favorite was the Hobbit. “Will you read it to me again?” He asked me once in February.

“It’s so long, Kevin… How ‘bout one of Grimm’s?” I replied.

“Just read me the part where Bilbo flies with the eagles. That’s all I want to hear.”

I think he loved the idea of such a grand adventure, especially as it now juxtaposed with his condition. So, I read him the chapter. I would have read the whole story for him if he’d only persisted.

He lasted through Easter, although he wasn’t feeling well enough to go to church. One day that spring, when the sun was shining through his window onto his face, I walked into his room to see him looking brighter than normal. His eyes had regained some of their knife-like intensity, and blood that was absent from his face for months seemed to have returned. He hadn’t been outside in 3 months, but he turned to look at me and said simply, “Let’s go out to the swing.”

After bundling him up in a blanket, I helped him outside, doing most of the work. He sat down on the swing, and I pushed him silently as he stared up at the sky.

“I wonder what the clouds feel like. Do you think I’ll ever get to feel them?”

I was crying now, but I tried to stabilize my voice long enough to answer. “I’m sure you will, Kev, up in heaven… clouds will be everywhere.”

Kevin answered in a faraway sort of voice. “I feel like God is watching me, up here, with you… I know I’ll be gone soon, but when I think of flying up high, with God and Grandma, and Grandpa, I’m not afraid anymore.” He turned and smiled at me, and I couldn’t hide my tears. “How about one great big push, Mags? I want to touch the sky.”

Kevin passed out of our lives two weeks later. It is so strange now when I look back to that afternoon. All those summer days, I thought I was teaching Kevin the lessons he would need in life. In the end, he taught me something far greater.

Even now, thirty years later, that swing holds the same vibrancy; luminous with memories. And when I sit down in that chipped, green seat I think of God, and that soaring spirit that Kevin never really let die.

Ancient history: Movie Review: The Princess Bride

Movie Review: The Princess Bride

            The Princess Bride is the hilarious tale of true love. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright star in the 1984 film, with acclaimed director Rob Reiner at the helm.

The film is the big-screen rendition of William Goldman’s 1970 book, The Princess Bride. The story centers around Wesley (Elwes) and Buttercup (Wright), two young lovers who are separated by poverty. Five years after their separation, Buttercup agrees to marry the prince of her land, with the assumption that Wesley–who never returned–is dead. Soon Wesley returns and immediately begins his attempts to retrieve Buttercup from the evil prince.

A spectacular cast highlights this very funny comedy. In one of his first roles, Fred Savage (Wonder Years) plays a sick young boy who is read the love story by his grandfather. Andre Rousimoff(also known as Andre the Giant), plays Fezzik, a big-hearted giant. Billy Crystal plays a hermit magician named Miracle Max. Mandy Patinkin (from Dick Tracy) plays Inigo Montoya, a drunkard master swordsman. Christopher Guest turns in a great performance as the villainous prince.

The soundtrack adds to the film with a well-written score. Singer/songwriter Mark Knopfler, of the band Dire Straits, created the music for the film. He also wrote a romantic song for the movie, called “Storybook Love.” The music does well to portray the story’s themes of love and violence. It is soft and romantic during touching parts, but loud and shrieking when fighting occurs.

Ancient history: Movie Review: King Arthur

Movie Review: King Arthur

            King Arthur is not the typical Arthurian story of Camelot and shining knights in the middle ages. In fact, this story, based on real archaeological evidence, makes Arthur a knight during the decline of Rome.

Arthur (Clive Owen) is a famed Roman general in Britain, who commands several knights to protect the British area from attacks by Saxons. His knights are all native to the country, but were captured by Romans when they invaded Britain. Eventually, Rome decides to abandon the area, and charges Arthur and his knights to find and safely retrieve a Roman man deep inside enemy territory. Their reward for their deeds would thus be freedom.

This movie is an exciting and touching realistic view of Arthurian legend. The movie opens with fighting and ends with the marriage of Arthur and Gwenevere (Keira Knightley). Owen turns in a masterful performance, accurately portraying Arthur’s sadness for his knights and his respect for democracy.

With stunning visual effects and fight scenes, King Arthur is a “can’t-miss” film.

Ancient history: Movie Review: Cinderella Man

Cinderella Man

            Cinderella Man is the inspiring story of James Braddock, the boxing legend who rose from poverty to win the heavyweight title during the great Depression. His story is so far-fetched, no one would believe it if it wasn’t true.

Braddock’s incredible story begins in the 1920’s, when Braddock was an up-and-coming challenger for the World Heavyweight Title. Sadly, his career was slowly de-railed by injuries to his hands. In the 1930’s, the midst of the depression, Braddock was stripped of eligibility to fight after breaking his hand in a “beer league” type match. Several years later, Braddock was given the chance to fight in Madison Square Garden for a boxer who pulled out lame, and he shocked the audience by winning. Several bouts later, Braddock was the heavyweight champion.

Although its box office take was not overly impressive, Cinderella Man is a great movie. According to respected talk show host Larry King, it is “one of the best movies ever!” Star Russell Crowe turns in a tear-jerking performance that allows Braddock’s deep love for his family to shine through. Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti round out a sparkling cast.

He had a lot to work with, but director Ron Howard made the most out of this uplifting story. You can feel the emotions in every scene: Braddock’s love for his family, the sadness of the depression, and the crowd’s support for the true underdog to win. A worthy film for any audience, Cinderella Man is one to see.