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 three 1973 film adaptations of Ponicsan's novels, the others being The Last Detail and Last Flag Flying.
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 Vietnam 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, which is midnight, 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.James Caan as Baggs
Marsha Mason as Maggie Paul
Kirk Calloway as Doug
Eli Wallach as Forshay
Burt Young as Master at Arms
Dabney Coleman as the Exec
Bruno Kirby as Alcott
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 Godfather, Caan called out Cinderella Liberty as one of the exceptions to those regrets, offering that he liked the film a lot.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated