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5 Plot Point Breakdown: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

By Keaton Ziem · September 7, 2011

Screenplay Genre: Drama / Sport

Movie Time: 132 minutes


Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), owner of a gym and manager for up-and-comer Big Willie Little (Mike Colter), meets Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) training in his gym. Frankie ignores Maggie’s attempts to recruit him as her manager, though she catches the eye of retired boxer and Frankie’s friend, Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman), who gives her training advice after-hours. (00:15:10)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

Big Willie fires Frankie as his manager, afraid that Frankie is too cautious in his attempts to get Willie a shot at the title. Frankie then catches Maggie training in his gym after hours. Maggie states her case, admitting that despite being “a girl” and being too old to start training, she has no other choice than to try to make a name for herself through boxing. Finally, Frankie agrees to train her, upon the condition that he will do so only until they find her a real manager. (00:35:04)


Despite Frankie’s condition, it isn’t long before he and Maggie become a successful manager-boxer team, though it once again becomes obvious that Frankie picks and chooses Maggie’s fights with extreme caution. Scrap notices, and arranges for Maggie to meet another manager that could make opportunities for Maggie that Frankie would hesitate to make. However, Maggie turns the manager down, deciding to stick with Frankie no matter what; all while Frankie has another letter to his estranged daughter returned to him. (01:04:39)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Before long, Frankie and Maggie land a shot at the title against The Champion Billie ‘The Blue Bear’ (Lucia Rijker), a notoriously dirty fighter. After two rounds and enduring many ‘low-blows’ from Billie, Maggie gains an upper-hand in the fight. Frustrated, Billie hits Maggie when she’s not looking and after the round is over, causing a fall that would break Maggie’s neck. Once Maggie is taken to the hospital, it becomes clear that Maggie will be paralyzed the rest of her life. (01:35:26)


Unable to move by herself, Maggie develops skin ulcers over her body, facing limb amputation. She asks Frankie to end her life for her to put an end to her misery. Frankie refuses because helping her commit suicide would be unethical and also because he has come to love her and wants to keep her. Maggie attempts suicide the only way she can; by chewing her own tongue, but is stopped. Frankie’s conscience nags him until he seeks Scrap’s advice, and resolves to honor Maggie’s request. (02:01:23)

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