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Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

PG  |   |  Drama, Sport  |  12 May 1978 (Finland)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 4,064 users  
Reviews: 53 user | 11 critic

The story of the friendship between a star pitcher, wise to the world, and a half-wit catcher, as they cope with the catcher's terminal illness through a baseball season.

Director:

(as John Hancock)

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Joe Jaros
...
Katie
Patrick McVey ...
Bruce's Father
...
Holly Wiggen
Selma Diamond ...
Tootsie, Hotel switchboard operator
...
Team Owner
Maurice Rosenfield ...
Team Owner
...
Piney Woods
...
Ugly
...
Bradley
Danny Burks ...
Perry
Tom Signorelli ...
Goose Williams
Edit

Storyline

Henry Wiggen (Author to his friends) and Bruce Pearson are members of the New York Mammoths major league baseball team - Author the star pitcher, Bruce the catcher who never quite lived up to his potential - friends, and roommates when they're on the road. During the off season, Bruce is diagnosed with a terminal case of Hodgkin's disease. Author is the only person on the team who knows of Bruce's illness, with neither planning on telling anyone. Author takes extraordinary measures to ensure that he is playing ball with Bruce during what will probably be Bruce's final season before he can no longer play. Author looks after Bruce in part because Bruce is mentally a simple man who can easily be taken advantage of, especially by his opportunistic girlfriend Katie. As the season progresses, the team isn't quite gelling, despite being the best team on paper. But as information comes to light, the dynamic on the team changes to make it a memorable end of the season especially for Bruce, who... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

12 May 1978 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Das letzte Spiel  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though the uniforms appear to be New York Yankee uniforms, they're actually the New York Mammoths. See more »

Goofs

During a rainstorm, the grounds crew is shown pulling the tarp over the field. After a locker room scene, the next exterior shot shows only the home plate area covered, and the rest of the field open to the rain. See more »

Quotes

Bruce Pearson: Everybody'd be nice to you if they knew you were dying.
Henry Wiggen: Everybody knows everybody is dying; that's why people are as good as they are.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Night on Earth (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Streets of Loredo (The Cowboy's Lament)
Performed and sung by Tom Ligon
See more »

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User Reviews

 
death be not proud...
17 June 2002 | by (Albany, NY) – See all my reviews

I originally saw this movie when it first opened in early 1973 . I haven't seen it in many years but fondly remember it as one of those pictures that leaves an indelible impression. Based on an early '50s novel by Mark Harris about a fictional N.Y.City Baseball Team (The Mammoths) the movie's focal point is the friendship between the team's star pitcher and a dying catcher, a naive, backwoods boy lacking in the social graces.

I'll never forget Michael Moriarty's Henry Wiggen in a scene where he reaches out to embrace a distraught, frightened Bruce Pearson (Robert De Niro), trying his best to console his dying roommate. " We're all dying " , Wiggen says to his friend, and thus begins and shortly ends one of the most tender scenes ever filmed between two men, in a movie about baseball, no less. And yet it's really not about baseball at all; yes, there are the obligatory scenes of the team at play and a humorous locker room speech by the team's crusty manager (the wonderful, late Vincent Gardenia, who received a supporting actor Oscar nomination for this film). There is plenty of humor to go along with the pathos in this story but pathos wins out. Death hangs over everyone's head in this picture : the message is pure and simple . To quote the movie's poster tag line, "Nothing is more important than friendship, not even death". I suppose a movie like this wouldn't work as well nowadays. The team support and management along with ridiculous sky rocketing salaries and apathetic treatment of sports fans has changed everything for the worse; this sweet little movie touches on a more innocent time. BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY will not enter the record books as one of the all time greats: it's too pat and maudlin at times (the locker room scene where Piney Woods plaintively strums the title song on the guitar is overkill, although it gets to me every time). But Moriarty and De Niro and a timeless reminder of the importance of love and friendship make this an unforgettable film.


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