Study Guide

Million Dollar Baby Setting

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The Hit Pit, Los Angeles

Um, You'll Want to Wipe That Bench Down

No one's ever going to mistake The Hit Pit for a 24-Hour Fitness. Frankie Dunn's gym is thoroughly unfashionable. "The place is dark and dingy," observes critic Paul Byrnes, "frequented by the lost, the mean and the slow […]" (source). The Hit Pit may be located in Los Angeles, but it's not the 72-degrees-and-sunny version that you get in so many other SoCal-set films.

The Hit Pit exists in a seamier L.A. zip code. Tougher, too. "You had your chance, you blew it, but at least you were lucky enough to get a chance—that's the kind of respect you get at the Hit Pit," writes The New Yorker's David Denby, "where the morose sarcasm is softened only by the harshest pity." It's grimy. It's gritty. It's the perfect location for a modern film noir like Million Dollar Baby.

Diners are Forever

If it is a modern film noir. Can you guess in what year the movie is set? Neither can we. Here's the thing: we're not supposed to know. From the Hit Pit to the boxing rings to the diners, the film's settings have a timeless quality. (Aside from a stray ad for The Apprentice on the side of the bus that we probably weren't supposed to notice.) "This story…could have taken place in the 1940s as much as the present day," writes Desson Thomson of The Washington Post. "Sign on for this movie and you are in a different world, where the rules are simple: Hit first and hit hard, or kiss the canvas" (source). By having an enduring, ageless quality, the movie's sets make it impossible to say with certainty when the movie takes place.

They also make it hard to alienate potential audience members. As long as she's cool with blood and bruises, Million Dollar Baby can appeal to your grandma just as much as it does to you.

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