Brian's Song (1971)

TV Movie  |  G  |   |  Biography, Drama, Sport  |  30 November 1971 (USA)
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Based on the real-life relationship between teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers and the bond established when Piccolo discovers that he is dying.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
J.C. Caroline
Judy Pace ...
Abe Gibron ...
Jack Concannon ...
Ed O'Bradovich ...
Ed O'Bradovich
The Chicago Bears Players ...
The Chicago Bears Coaches ...
The Chicago Bears Staff ...
Harold 'Happy' Hairston ...
Veteran Player #1 (as Happy Hairston)
Ron Feinberg ...
Veteran Player #2 (Doug Atkins)


Gale Sayers joins the Chicago Bears and is befriended by Brian Piccolo, an over-achieving running back. Although they compete for the same spot on the team, and despite the fact that Sayers is black and Piccolo white, they become roommates on the road and very close friends, especially when Sayers is injured and Piccolo helps his recovery. Later, they and their wives must both deal with the harsh reality of Piccolo's cancer. Written by Jerry Milani <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An inspiring true story of friendship and courage.


Biography | Drama | Sport


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 November 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Freunde bis in den Tod  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Louis Gossett Jr. was originally cast as Gale Sayers. Just days before shooting began, Gossett tore his Achilles' tendon while working out for the film. The studio execs scrambled, and quickly hired Billy Dee Williams as a replacement. Gossett, depressed over missing his "shot," was promised by producer David L. Wolper the first great role that came along. About six years later, Wolper called Gossett to play "Fiddler" in Roots (1977), the Emmy-winning role that made him a star. See more »


Piccolo's arm changes position when asking Sayers if the woman in the picture is his wife. See more »


Brian Piccolo: Did you get a chance to talk to Linda today?
Gale Sayers: No, why?
Brian Piccolo: Well, I thought you might have heard. Joy's expecting again.
Gale Sayers: Hey, THAT'S GREAT!
Brian Piccolo: Yeah, we think so. You know, if it's a boy, we'd kind of like to name it after you!
Gale Sayers: NO KIDDING?
Brian Piccolo: Yeah! It's got a real nice ring to it... SPADE PICCOLO!
See more »


References Knute Rockne All American (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

It was an honor to cry at such a fine film
18 April 2003 | by (Wilton, NH) – See all my reviews

This is one of the best football films ever made. Yes, it's not that long, but it is great. Billy Dee Williams and James Caan were just starting out their careers and TV movies were still fairly new. This is a story of two opposites, one who was shy and kept to himself and the other who was cocky and confident. There would eventually see past their differences and become the best of friends. I like the chemistry that Williams and Caan had in this film. They made you belive they were Sayers and Pic. What was the part that made me cry? It was the scene where Gale has to tell the team before a game that Brian has cancer. Even if I have to force it, I love to cry at that scene. It's the best part of the film. The musical score is also great. The theme has a tone to it I can't describe. I tried watching the remake when it came out, and couldn't make it through the first 15 minutes. It was Disneytized for my viewing displeasure. In my heart, Williams and Caan will always be Sayers and Pic. No doubt about it.

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