Million Dollar Baby
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Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced, scored by and starring Clint Eastwood from a screenplay written by Paul Haggis, based on stories from the 2000 collection Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole, the pen name of fight manager and cutman Jerry Boyd. It also stars Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman. The film follows Margaret Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank), an underdog amateur boxer who is helped by an underappreciated boxing trainer (Eastwood) to achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

Million Dollar Baby was theatrically released on December 15, 2004, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It received critical acclaim and grossed $216.8 million worldwide. The film garnered seven nominations at the 77th Academy Awards and won four: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (for Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (for Freeman).


Margaret Maggie Fitzgerald, a waitress from the Ozarks, shows up at the Hit Pit, a rundown Los Angeles gym owned and operated by Frankie Dunn. Dunn is a cantankerous Irish-American trainer, revealed to be estranged from his own daughter. Maggie asks Frankie to train her, but he refuses as he does not train women and she is too old to begin a boxing career. Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris, Frankie s friend and employee—the film s narrator—encourages and helps Maggie. Frankie s prize prospect, Big Willie Little, signs with successful manager Mickey Mack after becoming impatient with Frankie rejecting offers for a championship bout. Frankie then reluctantly agrees to train Maggie.

Maggie fights her way up in the women s amateur boxing division with Frankie s coaching. Since she has earned a reputation for quick KOs, Frankie must resort to bribery to get other managers to put their trainee fighters up against her. Scrap, concerned when Frankie rejects several offers for big fights, arranges a meeting for Maggie with Mickey Mack but, out of loyalty to Frankie, she declines. Frankie bestows Maggie a Gaelic nickname, embroidered on her boxing robe, Mo Chuisle (misspelled in the film as mo cuishle ), but does not tell her its meaning. The two travel to Europe as she continues to win; Maggie eventually saves up enough of her winnings to buy her mother a house, but her mother berates Maggie for endangering her government aid, claiming that everyone back home is laughing at her.

Frankie is finally willing to arrange a title fight. He secures Maggie a $1 million match in Las Vegas against the WBA women s welterweight champion, Billie The Blue Bear Osterman, a German ex-prostitute who has a reputation as an unpunished dirty fighter. Maggie begins to dominate the fight, but Billie knocks her out with an illegal sucker punch from behind after the bell rings to end the round. Maggie lands hard on her corner stool, breaking her neck and leaving her a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.

While in the hospital, Maggie looks forward to a visit from her family. They arrive only after first touring Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. Accompanied by an attorney, their sole concern is to get Maggie s assets transferred to them. Disgusted, she orders them to leave and threatens to report their welfare fraud if they try to contact her again.

Maggie soon develops bedsores and undergoes an amputation for an infected leg. She then asks Frankie to help her die, declaring that she got everything she wanted out of life. Frankie refuses, so Maggie later bites off her own tongue in an attempt to bleed to death. Knowing the fatherly affection Frankie has developed for Maggie, Frankie s priest warns him that he would never find himself again if he were to go through with Maggie s request. Frankie then sneaks into the hospital one night, unaware that Scrap is watching from the shadows. Just before administering a fatal injection of adrenaline, he tells Maggie the meaning of mo chuisle : my darling, and my blood. He never returns to the gym. Scrap s narration is revealed to be a letter to Frankie s daughter, informing her of her father s actual true character.


  • Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn, a gruff but well-meaning elderly boxing trainer.
  • Hilary Swank as Mary Margaret Maggie Fitzgerald, a determined, aspiring boxer trained up by Frankie Dunn.
  • Morgan Freeman as Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris, Dunn s gym assistant and former boxer.
  • Jay Baruchel as Dangerous Dillard Fighting Flippo Bam-Bam Barch or Danger , a simpleton would-be boxer.
  • Mike Colter as Big Willie Little, a boxer whom Dunn has trained for years.
  • Lucia Rijker as Billie The Blue Bear Osterman, a former prostitute and vicious boxer.
  • Brían F. O Byrne as Father Horvak, the priest of the church which Dunn attends.
  • Anthony Mackie as Shawrelle Berry, an overzealous boxer and frequent tenant of Dunn s gym.
  • Margo Martindale as Earline Fitzgerald, Maggie s selfish mother.
  • Marcus Chait as J.D. Fitzgerald, Maggie s incarcerated brother.
  • Riki Lindhome as Mardell Fitzgerald, Maggie s welfare-cheating sister.
  • Michael Peña as Omar, a boxer and Shawrelle s best friend.
  • Benito Martinez as Billie s manager.
  • Bruce MacVittie as Mickey Mack.
  • Grant L. Roberts as Billie s cut man.

Development and production

After being fired from the television series Family Law, Haggis wrote the script on spec, and it took four years to sell it. The film was stuck in development hell for years before it was shot. Several studios rejected the project even when Eastwood signed on as actor and director. Even Warner Bros., Eastwood s longtime home base, would not agree to a $30 million budget. Eastwood persuaded Lakeshore Entertainment s Tom Rosenberg to put up half the budget (as well as handle foreign distribution), with Warner Bros. contributing the rest. Eastwood shot the film in less than 40 days between June and July 2004. Filming took place in Los Angeles and film sets at Warner Bros. Studios. The term Million Dollar Baby was from the nose art of a World War II Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. The titular phrase million dollar baby was used as an insult during pre-fight publicity by Sonny Liston to Muhammad Ali, the latter of whom was an underdog at the time. Eastwood had his daughter Morgan Colette appear in a brief role as a girl who waves to Swank s character at a gas station.

Eastwood had confidence in Swank s acting, but upon seeing Swank s small physique, he had concerns, I just thought, Yeah, this gal would be great. If we can get her trained up. If we can get a little bit more bulk on her, to make her look like a fighter …She was like a feather. But what happened is, she had this great work ethic.

Consequently, to prepare for her role, Swank underwent extensive training in the ring and weight room, gaining 19 pounds of muscle, aided by professional trainer Grant L Roberts. She trained for nearly five hours every day, winding up with a potentially life-threatening staphylococcus infection. She did not tell Eastwood about the infection because she thought it would be out of character for Maggie.


Box office

Million Dollar Baby initially had a limited release, opening in eight theaters in December 2004. In its later wide release opening, the film earned $12,265,482 in North America and quickly became a box-office hit both domestically and internationally. It grossed $216,763,646 in theaters; $100,492,203 in the United States, and $116,271,443 in other territories. The film played in theaters for six and a half months.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes Million Dollar Baby has an approval rating of 90% based on 269 reviews, with an average rating of 8.40/10. The website s critical consensus reads, 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. On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 86 out of 100, based on reviews from 39 critics, indicating universal acclaim . Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film four stars and stated that Clint Eastwood s Million Dollar Baby is a masterpiece, pure and simple, listing it as the best film of 2004. Michael Medved stated: My main objection to Million Dollar Baby always centered on its misleading marketing, and effort by Warner Brothers to sell it as a movie about a female Rocky, with barely a hint of the pitch-dark substance that led Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer … to declare that no movie in my memory has depressed me more than Million Dollar Baby.

In early 2005, the film sparked controversy when some disability rights activists protested the ending. The Disability Rights Education Fund released a statement about the film in February 2005 that included the following: Perhaps the most central stereotype fueling disability prejudice is the mistaken assumption inherent in the message of the movie that the quality of life of individuals with disabilities is unquestionably not worth living. This stereotype is contradicted by the personal experience of many thousands of people with significant disabilities in this country and around the world who view our own lives as ordinary and normal. It is further contradicted by plenty of hard data. Research overwhelmingly shows that people with disabilities find satisfaction in our lives to the same degree, or greater, than does the general public. The Chicago Tribune reported that protests against the film by disability activists occurred in Chicago, Berkeley, and other cities, and that Clint Eastwood had previously lobbied for weakening provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wesley J. Smith in The Weekly Standard also criticized the film for its ending and for missed opportunities; Smith said, The movie could have ended with Maggie triumphing once again, perhaps having obtained an education and becoming a teacher; or, opening a business managing boxers; or perhaps, receiving a standing ovation as an inspirational speaker.

Eastwood responded to the criticism by saying the film was about the American dream. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Eastwood distanced himself from the actions of characters in his films, noting, I ve gone around in movies blowing people away with a .44 Magnum. But that doesn t mean I think that s a proper thing to do . Roger Ebert stated that a movie is not good or bad because of its content, but because of how it handles its content. Million Dollar Baby is classical in the clean, clear, strong lines of its story and characters, and had an enormous emotional impact .

The Gaelic nickname for Swank s character comes from the original phrase a chuisle mo chroí, meaning O pulse of my heart ; one critic noted that the use of Gaelic in the film led to some interest in the language and the phrase.

Top ten lists

Million Dollar Baby was listed on many critics top ten lists for films released in 2004.

  • 1st – A.O. Scott & Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
  • 1st – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
  • 1st – Lou Lumenick, New York Post
  • 2nd – Richard Schickel, Time
  • 2nd – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
  • 2nd – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
  • 2nd – Claudia Puig, USA Today
  • 2nd – Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club
  • 2nd – Ty Burr & Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
  • 3rd – Kevin Thomas & Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
  • 3rd – Jack Matthews, New York Daily News
  • 3rd – Glenn Kenny, Premiere
  • 3rd – Carla Meyer & Ruthie Stein, San Francisco Chronicle
  • 3rd – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
  • 4th – Mike Clark, USA Today
  • 4th – David Ansen, Newsweek
  • 4th – Jami Bernard, New York Daily News
  • 5th – Robert Koehler, Variety
  • 5th – James Berardinelli, Reelviews
  • 6th – Stephen Holden, The New York Times
  • 6th – Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club
  • 6th – Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper
  • 9th – Desson Thompson, Washington Post
  • 10th – Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club
  • Top 10 (listed alphabetically) – Ron Stringer, L.A. Weekly
  • Top 10 (listed alphabetically) – David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
  • Top 10 (listed alphabetically)– Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian
  • Top 10 (listed alphabetically) – Carrie Rickey & Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer


Million Dollar Baby received the award for Best Picture of 2004 at the 77th Academy Awards. Clint Eastwood was awarded his second Best Director Oscar for the film, and also received a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination. Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman received Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscars, respectively. Joel Cox, Eastwood s editor for many years, was nominated for Best Film Editing, and Paul Haggis was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay award.

The film was named the third Best Film of the 21st Century So Far in 2017 by The New York Times.

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Picture Clint Eastwood,
Albert S. Ruddy and
Tom Rosenberg
Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
Best Actor Nominated
Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Editing Joel Cox Nominated
ACE Eddie Best Editing Nominated
Amanda Award Best Foreign Feature Film Clint Eastwood Nominated
American Screenwriters Association Discover Screenwriting Award Paul Haggis Won
Art Directors Guild Award Best Contemporary Feature Film Henry Bumstead
Jack G. Taylor Jr.
Billie Award Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Best Director Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Casting Society of America Award Best Casting for Feature Film: Drama Phyllis Huffman Nominated
César Awards Best Foreign Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Film Clint Eastwood Won
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing Clint Eastwood Won
Director s Guild of Great Britain Outstanding Director Clint Eastwood Nominated
ESPY Award Best Sports Movie Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Florida Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress Won
Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Best Motion Picture—Drama Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Best Original Score Clint Eastwood Nominated
Grammy Award Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Award Best Sound Editing (Sound Effects & Foley) Alar Robert Murray
Bub Asman
David Grimaldi
Jason King
MTV Movie Award Best Female Performance Hilary Swank Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Won
National Board of Review Award Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Best Director Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Actor Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Director Won
Producers Guild of America Award Best Theatrical Motion Picture Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Actor Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Nominated
Best Film Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
Paul Haggis
Satellite Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Paul Haggis Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Actress Hilary Swank Won
Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Won
Best Cast Nominated

Home media

The film was released on VHS and DVD on July 12, 2005, and all editions of the Region 1 DVD, except for the Deluxe Edition , came with a paperback copy of the book Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner. An HD DVD release was issued on April 18, 2006. The Blu-ray Disc version was released on November 14, 2006. It was the first Best Picture winner released on either high-definition optical disc format in the U.S.; it and Unforgiven (also starring Eastwood and Freeman) were the only ones released in the U.S. on HD DVD prior to the first one released in the U.S. on Blu-ray, Crash. The film is also available online through video on demand and most major streaming platforms.

Year 2004
ReleaseDate 2005-01-28
RuntimeMins 132
RuntimeStr 2h 12min
Plot A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.
Awards Top rated movie #174 , Won 4 Oscars, 67 wins & 86 nominations total
Directors Clint Eastwood
Writers Paul Haggis, F.X. Toole
Stars Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman
Produced by Clint Eastwood,Paul Haggis,Robert Lorenz,Gary Lucchesi,Bobby Moresco,Tom Rosenberg,Albert S. Ruddy
Music by Clint Eastwood
Cinematography by Tom Stern
Film Editing by Joel Cox
Casting By Phyllis Huffman
Production Design by Henry Bumstead
Art Direction by Jack G. Taylor Jr.
Set Decoration by Richard C. Goddard
Costume Design by Deborah Hopper
Makeup Department Deena Adair,Janice Alexander,Nancy Hancock,Tania McComas,Carol A. O’Connell,Jay Wejebe,Buffy Zerefski
Production Management Tim Moore
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Katie Carroll,Ryan Craig,Robert Lorenz,Donald Murphy
Art Department Scott M. Anderson,William A. Barry III,Brian Bilson,Bradley B. Blasdel,Pam Cartmel,Alexander Ferency,Chuck Herrmann,Bill ‘Kauhane’ Hoyt,Rickey Johnson,Gary A. Lee,David Leon McCardle,Michael Muscarella,Joseph G. Pacelli Jr.,Enrico Paronelli,Sandra Renfroe,Mike Rutgard,Kenny Sanford,John Schacht,Michael Sexton,Aaron Davis,Elixandro Diaz Jr.,Christine Fegley,David Christopher Johnson,James R. Lord,Scott Nifong,Robert Silcock
Sound Department James Ashwill,Bub Asman,Christopher Boyes,William Cawley,Lucy Coldsnow-Smith,John T. Cucci,Gloria D’Alessandro,Joe Divitale,Michael Dressel,Juno J. Ellis,Jonathan Fuh,Tony Gray,David Grimaldi,Tom Hartig,Tom Johnson,Jason King,Nicholas Korda,Bruce Lacey,Brian Magerkurth,Steve Mann,Walt Martin,Chuck Michael,Kimberly Morrell,Alan Robert Murray,Blu Murray,Dan O’Connell,Thomas J. O’Connell,Carin Rogers,Jurgen Scharpf,Michael Semanick,Tony Sereno,Karen Spangenberg,Shawn Sykora,David Wolowic,Vincent Cirilli,Sean England,Nicholas Korda,Steve Mann,Rob Nokes,Ronald G. Roumas,Paul Virostek
Special Effects by Steve Riley,Dominic V. Ruiz,H. Barclay Aaris,Ante Dugandzic
Visual Effects by Liz Radley,Darin McCormick-Millett,James D. Tittle,Bob Wiatr
Stunts Minerva Adams,Michael Bentt,Tamara Bossett,Erin Carufel,Christina Cox,Daniele Doobenen,Kimberly Estrada,Maritza Franco,Rosine ‘Ace’ Hatem,Nick Hermz,Mimi Lesseos,Cynthia Prouder,Bridgett Riley,Mikee Stafford,Buddy Van Horn,Boni Yanagisawa,Nicola C. Hindshaw,David LeBell,Joni Podesta
Camera and Electrical Department Stephen S. Campanelli,Trevor Carroll-Coe,Bill Coe,Ross Dunkerley,Sean Higgins,John Lacy,Bobby McMahan,Charles Saldana,T. Daniel Scaringi,Doug Wall,Merie Weismiller Wallace,James D. Wickman,Kevin Barrera,Buzzy Burwell,Robert Chinello,Bill Coe,Matthew A. Del Ruth,Jason C. Fitzgerald,Terry Kramer,Roger Meilink,Brian Minzlaff,Morten Petersen,Bruce D. Spellman,Ken Sylvester,Andrew Towne,Paul Varrieur
Casting Department Susan Grennan,Tony Hobbs,Geoffrey Miclat
Costume and Wardrobe Department Ann Culotta,Lynda Foote,Sybil Gray,Jennifer Parker,Cathie Valdovino,Becky Gelbart,Jack Taggart
Editorial Department Michael Cipriano,Mo Henry,Gary Roach,Kurt Smith
Location Management Kokayi Ampah,Elisa Ann Conant,Luke Ramsey,Ptah Shabaf-Lyons,Donovan Terranova,David Halver,Marta Tomkiw
Music Department Kyle Eastwood,Robert Fernandez,Bruce Forman,Donald Harris,Gennady Loktionov,Lennie Niehaus,Ryan Robinson,Michael Stevens
Script and Continuity Department Mable Lawson-McCrary
Transportation Department Keith Dillin,Stephen Heinrich,Charles Ramirez,Robert aaron Brown,Dillin Craig,Jim DePue,Paulie DiCocco III,Robert Gaskill,Roy A. Grace,John Magoo McGivern,Kevin Norwood,Beau D. Reed Sr.,John Sagray,Paul Tumber
Additional Crew Mary Aymar,Ilsa Berg,Shandra Beri,Michael Bilog,Judith M. Brown,Casey Cummins,Gerry De Leon,Don Dinkins,Don Familton,Jessica Franks,Jason Gondek,Susan Grennan,Susan Hartmann,Judie Hoyt,Nancy G. James,Lieve Jansen,Eva Jensen,Michael Judd,Don Kincade,Deana Lou,Lance McDaniel,Rose Mesa,Kevin R.W. Murray,Greg Newman,Quentin Pierre,Casey Pond,Lucy Ramirez-Ewart,Lucia Rijker,Grant Roberts,Hector Roca,Jenniphur Ryan,Gian Sardar,Elizabeth Schlater,Taffy Schweickhardt,Karen Shaw,Michelle L. Shuffett,Miker Stovall,Julie Sultan,Chuck Webb,Doug Burch,Kelli Cardiff,David Cervantes,Cristina Chereneta,Christopher Gilbertson,Joseph Hampton,Matt Lindquist,Lucas Oliver-Frost,Scooter Perrotta,Paulina Quaranta,Diana Taffolla,Mark Thomason,John Trujillo
Genres Drama, Sport
Companies Warner Bros., Lakeshore Entertainment, Malpaso Productions
Countries USA
Languages English, Irish Gaelic
ContentRating PG-13
ImDbRating 8.1
ImDbRatingVotes 681410
MetacriticRating 86
Keywords boxing,determination,women boxing,boxing trainer,death