Cinderella Liberty

Cinderella Liberty

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Rydell
Produced by Mark Rydell
Screenplay by Darryl Ponicsan
Based on Cinderella Liberty
by Darryl Ponicsan
Starring James Caan
Marsha Mason
Eli Wallach
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Edited by Patrick Kennedy
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 18, 1973 (1973-12-18) (U.S.)
  • April 7, 1974 (1974-04-07) (Sweden)
  • September 30, 1974 (1974-09-30) (Germany)
  • September 27, 1974 (1974-09-27) (Belgium)
  • November 8, 1974 (1974-11-08) (Finland)
Running time
117 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,465,000[1]
Box office $3.7 million (rentals)[2]

Cinderella Liberty is a 1973 American romantic drama film adapted by Daryl Ponicsan from his 1973 novel of the same name. The film tells the story of a sailor who falls in love with a prostitute and becomes a surrogate father for her 11-year-old mixed race son. Produced and directed by Mark Rydell, the film stars James Caan, Marsha Mason and Eli Wallach, with a supporting cast that includes Kirk Calloway, Burt Young, Allyn Ann McLerie, Dabney Coleman, Jon Korkes and Allan Arbus. The title is derived from the plot point that the sailor, while receiving medical treatment at the Navy base's medical facility, is given what is called a "Cinderella Liberty" pass which allows him to freely leave the naval base as long as he is back by curfew. The film is one of two 1973 film adaptations of Ponicsan's novels, the other being The Last Detail.

Cinderella Liberty was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marsha Mason), Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Music, Song (John Williams and Paul Williams for "Nice to Be Around").

The movie was filmed in Seattle, Washington.


John J. Baggs (James Caan) a peacetime sailor, and a World War II veteran, checks into the Naval base's medical facility for treatment. After he gets a clean bill of health, he finds out that he is unable to get paid or receive new orders because somehow the U.S. Navy has lost his file. While they continue to search for his lost file, he is able to come and go from the base until curfew with his "Cinderella Liberty" pass issued by the medical facility.

One night in a bar, he spots an attractive woman hustling guys at a pool table. He challenges her himself and develops an interest in the woman, Maggie (Marsha Mason), who turns out to be a prostitute living in a tenement with her biracial son, Doug (Kirk Calloway).

Baggs begins spending time with Maggie at the apartment, where Doug is often left to fend for himself. His attempts at creating a normal life for her succeed for a while, but Maggie cannot change the way she is. Doug, suspicious and cynical at first, bonds with Baggs, who devotes his free time to the kid and even gets his teeth fixed. Maggie is pregnant by someone she met before Baggs; she gives birth prematurely, and the baby dies soon after birth. Distraught, Maggie abandons Doug and leaves a note for Baggs telling him he can keep him, and that she is going back to New Orleans (where she came from).

Finally the Navy finds Baggs' records. In order to stay with Doug, Baggs gets a veteran ex-sailor named Forshay (Eli Wallach)(who was drummed out of the service unfairly) to change places with Baggs and ship out under his name. Baggs and Doug then head for New Orleans to look for Maggie.



Cinderella Liberty received a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture. In lamenting many of the film choices he made in the years immediately following the The Godfather, Caan called out Cinderella Liberty as one of the exceptions to those regrets, offering that he liked the film a lot.[3]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


See also


  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p257
  2. Solomon p 232. Please note figures are rentals, not total gross.
  3. James Caan's career hitting tough times Siskel, Gene. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 27 Nov 1977: e6.
  4. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  5. "Cinderella Liberty (Intrada Special Collection)". Intrada Records. Retrieved October 19, 2012.

External links

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