61 user 22 critic

Brian's Song (1971)

Based on the real-life relationship between teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers and the bond established when Piccolo discovers that he is dying.


Buzz Kulik


William Blinn, Gale Sayers (book) | 1 more credit »
4,659 ( 366)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 11 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Caan ... Brian Piccolo
Billy Dee Williams ... Gale Sayers
Jack Warden ... Coach Halas
Bernie Casey ... J.C. Caroline
Shelley Fabares ... Joy Piccolo
David Huddleston ... Ed McCaskey
Judy Pace ... Linda Sayers
Abe Gibron Abe Gibron ... Abe Gibron
Jack Concannon Jack Concannon ... Jack Concannon
Ed O'Bradovich Ed O'Bradovich ... Ed O'Bradovich
The Chicago Bears Players ... The Chicago Bear Players
The Chicago Bears Coaches The Chicago Bears Coaches ... The Chicago Bear Coaches
The Chicago Bears Staff The Chicago Bears Staff ... The Chicago Bear Staff
Harold 'Happy' Hairston Harold 'Happy' Hairston ... Veteran Player #1 (as Happy Hairston)
Ron Feinberg ... Veteran Player #2


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 <jmilani@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An inspiring true story of friendship and courage.


Biography | Drama | Sport


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Michel Legrand's title theme found a life beyond the film that inspired it. At the time, it was very unusual for a theme song from a made-for-television movie to hit the pop charts because a network film would, in theory, be shown only once. However, Brian's Song (1971) was such a ratings bonanza that the heart-wrenching theme song was heard by millions of viewers the night the film premiered, and was much hummed in the weeks and months that followed. There was not enough background music in the film to justify a long-playing soundtrack album, so Legrand recorded "Brian's Song Themes and Variations," which also included selections from a host of his many other film projects. Bell Records, which released the album, concurrently issued a 45rpm single of "Brian's Song," (backed with Legrand's theme from "The Go-Between"), and the single would go on to top the music charts for the remainder of the year. Incredibly, the theme from Brian's Song (1971) was so iconic that it was incorporated again thirty years later in the 2001 TV remake. See more »


Brian calls Gale "Magic" but his nickname (given to him in college) was "The Kansas Comet". Perhaps "Magic" was a personal nickname Piccolo had for Sayers. See more »


Gale Sayers: [laughing] You wouldn't believe it baby. But, he - Brian *tried* to call me a nigger!
[laughs hysterically]
See more »


Referenced in Going the Distance (2010) See more »


Brian's Song
Written and Performed by Michel Legrand Et Son Orchestre
See more »

User Reviews

A made-for-TV classic
4 June 2000 | by capitan_movieSee all my reviews

Start with the great musical score, add magnificent performances by the two leads and the entire supporting cast, an inspirational story, and great directing from Buzz Kulik, then add a terrific script. The result is the greatest made-for-TV movie of all time. The comraderie is exceptional, the dialogue is phenomenal, and every relationship rings true,

34 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 61 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

30 November 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Brian's Song See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Screen Gems Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed