Study Guide

Million Dollar Baby What's Up With the Title?

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What's Up With the Title?

Paul Haggis's screenplay for Million Dollar Baby is based on not one but two short stories by F.X. Toole: "Million $$$ Baby" and "Frozen Water." We're glad Haggis stuck with just one title. A Million Frozen Water Babies just doesn't have the same ring to it.

So what does it mean? Let's break it down: First, the million dollars. That's a lot of dough. The kind of bank you'd make if you were a super-successful fighter like one Miss Maggie Fitzgerald. That's one way to look at it—she's literally worth a million dollars—but we like to think of it less in terms of actual monetary value and more in terms of intrinsic value. If somebody's worth a million bucks to you, then they're pretty precious.

Then there's the baby. That's a pretty common term of endearment. Just ask the poet laureate of Canada, Justin Bieber. It might also refer to Frankie and Maggie's relationship. Over the course of the movie, he basically adopts her. Even though she's a grown woman, she'll always be his baby. His…Million Dollar Baby.

There's an old popular song written by Henry Warren in 1931 called "Million Dollar Baby" with the lyric: I found a million dollar baby / In a five and ten-cent store. (For you folks born after 1950, a five-and-ten-cent store was a variety store that carried all kinds of cheap merchandise, kind of like a precursor of Family Dollar.) That title works, too, to capture the idea that Frankie found his treasure in a poor kid in his grimy boxing studio.

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