Cinderella Liberty

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 10-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 midnight 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.

Cinderella Liberty
Cinderella liberty movie poster
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMark Rydell
Produced byMark Rydell
Screenplay byDarryl Ponicsan
Based onCinderella Liberty
by Darryl Ponicsan
StarringJames Caan
Marsha Mason
Burt Young
Eli Wallach
Music byJohn Williams
CinematographyVilmos Zsigmond
Edited byPatrick Kennedy
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 18, 1973 (U.S.)
  • April 7, 1974 (Sweden)
  • September 30, 1974 (Germany)
  • September 27, 1974 (Belgium)
  • November 8, 1974 (Finland)
Running time
117 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.7 million (rentals)[2]


John J. Baggs Jr. (James Caan) a peacetime sailor and a Vietnam veteran, checks into the Seattle Naval base's medical facility for minor treatment requiring tests. The testing results delay keep him from rejoining his ship when it sails. After he gets a clean bill of health, he finds out that he is unable to get paid or receive new orders because the U.S. Navy has lost his records. While they continue to search for his lost records, he is able to come and go from the base until the midnight curfew with a "Cinderella Liberty" pass issued by the medical facility. On his first night in a bar, he is racing the clock to find a woman, and spots Maggie (Marsha Mason), an attractive woman hustling sailors at a pool table. He challenges her at pool, and develops an interest in the woman, who turns out to be a prostitute living in a tenement with her bi-racial 10-year-old son Doug (Kirk Calloway).

Baggs runs into Doug who is out drinking beer, and begins spending time with him. He also develops a relationship with Maggie, while going on outings with Doug, who is often left to fend for himself. Baggs attempts to create a normal life for her, and he succeeds for a while, but he has no status with the Navy, and has no pay and no benefits. Doug, suspicious and cynical at first, bonds with Baggs, who devotes his free time to the kid and even gets his teeth fixed at the naval base by an unqualified dental assistant. Maggie is pregnant by someone she met before Baggs; she gives birth prematurely, and the baby dies soon after birth. Distraught, Maggie needs to get out and distract herself, and returns to her former lifestyle. Finally, the Navy locates Baggs's records, and he is re-assigned. When he goes to inform Maggie, he finds she has abandoned Doug and left a note for Baggs telling him that he can keep Doug, and that she is going back to New Orleans (where she came from).

In a subplot, Baggs is searching for a sailor named Forshay, who is in charge of training recruits and has his own tough approach to new recruits, including Baggs. After a brief fight, the two become friends based on their shared love of their Navy careers that override everything else in their lives. Forshay is demoted, and is being discharged over his mistreatment of recruits, one of whom who had political connections. Forshay loses his pension, and Baggs finds him doing a menial job as a barker at a strip show.

In order to stay with Doug, Baggs gets the veteran ex-sailor Forshay (Eli Wallach) to change places with him 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 his Oscar and Golden Globe nominated performance in The Godfather, Caan mentioned Cinderella Liberty as one of the exceptions to those regrets, commenting that he liked the film a lot.[3]

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


Cinderella Liberty[5]
1."Wednesday Special (Main Title) (Vocal by Paul Williams)"2:28
2."Nice to Be Around"2:51
3."New Shooter"3:07
4."Maggie Shoots Pool"3:56
5."Maggie and Baggs"4:07
6."Boxing Montage"2:59
7."Nice to Be Around (Vocal by Paul Williams)"2:38
8."Neptune's Bar"2:23
9."Cinderella Liberty Love Theme"3:59
10."The Ferry Ride"1:46
11."A Baby Boy Arrives"2:06
12."Wednesday Special (End Title) (Vocal by Paul Williams)"2:28

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.
  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

1973 in film

The year 1973 in film involved some significant events.

31st Golden Globe Awards

The 31st Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television for 1973, were held on January 26, 1974.

46th Academy Awards

The 46th Academy Awards were presented on Tuesday, April 2, 1974, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. The ceremonies were presided over by Burt Reynolds, Diana Ross, John Huston, and David Niven.

The Sting won 7 awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for George Roy Hill. The Exorcist and The Way We Were were the only other films to win multiple awards.

A Little Bit of Love (album)

A Little Bit of Love is a studio album by Paul Williams, released in 1974. The album is Williams' sixth studio album and the fourth studio album under A&M Records. Notable songs from the album include "Sad Song (That Used to Be Our Song)", "A Little Bit of Love", "The Family of Man" and "Loneliness". "Nice To Be Around" was written with composer John Williams for the film "Cinderella Liberty" and was nominated for a Best Song Oscar, sung by Maureen McGovern for the soundtrack.

Allan Arbus

Allan Franklin Arbus (February 15, 1918 – April 19, 2013) was an American actor and photographer and the husband of photographer Diane Arbus. He is known for his role as psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman (Major) on the CBS television series M*A*S*H.

Allyn Ann McLerie

Allyn Ann McLerie (December 1, 1926 – May 21, 2018) was a Canadian-born, Brooklyn-reared actress, singer, and dancer who worked with many Golden Age musical theatre's major choreographers, including George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, and Jerome Robbins.

Ash Wednesday (1973 film)

Ash Wednesday is a 1973 American drama film starring Elizabeth Taylor, directed by Larry Peerce and produced by Dominick Dunne. The screenplay by Jean-Claude Tramont focuses on the effect that extensive cosmetic surgery has on the life of a middle-aged married woman.

Darryl Ponicsan

Darryl Ponicsan (; born May 26, 1938) is an American writer. He is best known as the author of the 1970 novel The Last Detail, which was adapted into a 1973 film starring Jack Nicholson. A sequel, Last Flag Flying, based on his 2005 novel of the same name, was released in 2017 and he also co-wrote the screenplay with Richard Linklater. He also wrote the 1973 novel and screenplay Cinderella Liberty, starring James Caan. Ponicsan writes mystery novels under the pen name Anne Argula.

Fred Sadoff

Frederick Edward Sadoff (October 21, 1926 — May 6, 1994) was an American film, stage and television actor.

James Caan

James Edmund Caan (born March 26, 1940) is an American actor. After early roles in The Glory Guys (1965), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, El Dorado (1967), and The Rain People (1969), he came to prominence in the 1970s with significant roles in films such as Brian's Song (1971), Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Gambler (1974), Freebie and the Bean (1974), Rollerball (1975), Funny Lady (1975), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Chapter Two (1979). For his signature role in The Godfather (1972), that of hot-tempered Sonny Corleone, Caan was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the corresponding Golden Globe.

Caan's subsequent notable performances include roles in Thief (1981), Misery (1990), For the Boys (1991), Eraser (1996), Bottle Rocket (1996) and Elf (2003), as well as the role of "Big Ed" Deline in the television series Las Vegas (2003–08). He also prominently lent his voice to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) as Tim Lockwood, father of Bill Hader's protagonist Flint Lockwood.

For his contributions to the film industry, Caan was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1978 with a motion pictures star located at 6648 Hollywood Boulevard.

John Medora

John L. Medora (born May 28, 1936), also known as John or Johnny Madara, is an American singer-songwriter and record producer who teamed up with David White and Arthur Singer to write the 1957 hit song "At the Hop".He first recorded in 1957 with a hit single "Be My Girl", and later that year wrote a song called "Do the Bop" with Dave White. The "Bop" was a popular dance on the TV show, American Bandstand. On the advice of the host Dick Clark, the lyrics and title were changed to "At the Hop", and the song was recorded by Danny and the Juniors, becoming a US number 1 and international hit. He later co-wrote other hits including "1-2-3" for Len Barry, and "You Don't Own Me" for Lesley Gore.In 1965, he and White co-wrote and performed, as the Spokesmen, the song "Dawn of Correction", an answer song to Barry McGuire's hit "Eve of Destruction". The song reached number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. The pair also formed their own publishing company which was later sold to Michael Jackson. Madara also worked as a record producer, and discovered both Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble (Gamble and Huff), later a successful songwriter and producer attributed to pioneering the style of music known as Philly Soul, and the recording artist Hall and Oates.He spent two years in Las Vegas working with one of the most successful performers of all time, Wayne Newton. He produced two of his albums and further produced and wrote songs for a Christmas television special for Wayne Newton on CBS. In the mid 1970s he moved to Los Angeles, and produced music for movies including Cinderella Liberty and Hey Good Lookin', as well as for television.

Jon Korkes

Jon Korkes (born December 4, 1945) is an American stage, movie, and television actor.

Late Night Guitar

Late Night Guitar is an instrumental-pop studio album by Earl Klugh released in 1980. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Performance at the 24th Grammy Awards in 1982. In this release, Klugh is joined by strings and horns in an orchestra arranged and conducted by David Matthews.

Mark Rydell

Mark Rydell (born March 23, 1928) is an American actor, film director and producer. He has directed many Academy Award-nominated films including The Fox (1967), The Reivers (1969), Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Rose (1979), The River (1984) and For the Boys (1991). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for On Golden Pond (1981).

Marsha Mason

Marsha Mason (born April 3, 1942) is an American actress and director. She was nominated four times for the Academy Award for Best Actress; for her performances in Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Goodbye Girl (1977), Chapter Two (1979), and Only When I Laugh (1981). The first two films also won her Golden Globe Awards. She was married for ten years (1973–83) to the playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon, who was the writer of three of her four Oscar-nominated roles.

Mason's film debut was in the 1966 film Hot Rod Hullabaloo. Her other films include Blume in Love (1973), The Cheap Detective (1978), Max Dugan Returns (1983) Heartbreak Ridge (1986), Stella (1990) and Drop Dead Fred (1991). On television, she appeared in the soap opera Love of Life (1971–72) and received an Emmy Award nomination for her recurring role on the sitcom Frasier (1997–98).

She has also had an extensive career on stage, making her Broadway debut as a replacement in the comedy Cactus Flower in 1968. She starred in a 1999 revival of The Prisoner of Second Avenue in London, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album for the 2000 recording. In 2006, she starred in the American premiere production of Hecuba at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Her other Broadway credits include The Night of the Iguana (1996), Steel Magnolias (2005), and Impressionism (2009).

Mason guest-starred in Madam Secretary (2015–16) and The Good Wife (2016), and has had recurring roles on the ABC sitcom The Middle from 2010-2017 and the Netflix series Grace and Frankie since 2016.

Nice to Be Around (Maureen McGovern album)

Nice to Be Around is Maureen McGovern's second studio album, released in 1974. The title track was the theme from the 1973 film Cinderella Liberty. McGovern composed the music for the songs "All I Want (All I Need)," "Love Knots," "Little Boys & Men" (dedicated to Mark Christopher Axelson), and "Memory."

Toots Thielemans

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans (29 April 1922 – 22 August 2016), known professionally as Toots Thielemans, was a Belgian jazz musician. He was known for his harmonica playing, as well as his guitar, whistling skills, and composing. According to jazz historian Ted Gioia, his most important contribution was in "championing the humble harmonica", which Thielemans made into a "legitimate voice in jazz". He eventually became the "preeminent" jazz harmonica player.His first professional performances were with Benny Goodman's band when they toured Europe in 1949 and 1950. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1951, becoming a citizen in 1957. From 1953 to 1959 he played with George Shearing, and then led his own groups on tours in the U.S. and Europe. In 1961 he recorded and performed live one of his own compositions, "Bluesette", which featured him playing guitar and whistling. In the 1970s and 1980s, he continued touring and recording, appearing with musicians such as Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Werner, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Elis Regina and Paquito D'Rivera.

Among the film soundtracks that Thielemans recorded are The Pawnbroker (1964), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Sugarland Express (1974) and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977). His harmonica theme song for the popular Sesame Street TV show was heard for 40 years. He often performed and recorded with Quincy Jones, who once called him "one of the greatest musicians of our time." In 2009 he was designated a Jazz Master by The National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor for a jazz musician in the United States.

USS Orlando (PF-99)

USS Orlando (PF-99) was a Tacoma-class frigate that served during World War II. She was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Orlando, Florida.

When Will I See You Again (Johnny Mathis album)

When Will I See You Again is an album by American pop singer Johnny Mathis that was released in March 1975 by Columbia Records and was again predominantly composed of covers of recent hit songs by other artists.

The album made its first appearance on Billboard magazine's Top LP's & Tapes chart in the issue dated April 19, 1975, and remained there for 13 weeks, peaking at number 99. It entered the UK album chart on July 26, 1975, and reached number 13 during its 10 weeks there. On September 1, 1975, the British Phonographic Industry awarded the album with Silver certification for sales of 60,000 units.

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