59 user 20 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 »
3,380 ( 1,180)
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:

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Did You Know?


James Caan initially turned down the role of Brian Piccolo, preferring to focus on his film career, but he liked the script so much that he eventually relented. See more »


After Gale Sayers makes the announcement in the locker room about Brian Piccolo's illness, and the team visits him in the hospital room, which is supposed to be in Chicago, the exterior hospital establishing shot clearly shows the name of the hospital, the "New North Hospital of Los Angeles." Further, while Brian Piccolo did return to Chicago for the diagnoses, he ultimately transferred to a hospital in New York City, which is where he died. See more »


Coach George Halas: [in the Bears locker room] Let me have your attention fellas. Come on over here. Gale has something he wants to say to you. Gale.
Gale Sayers: You all know that - we hand out a game ball to - the - outstanding player. Well, I'd like to change that. We just got word that - that Brian Piccolo is - that he's sick, very sick. And it looks like - he might never play football - again - or - for a long time. And - I think we should dedicate ourselves - to - give our maximum effort - to win this game - and give the ...
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Referenced in Mork & Mindy: Drive, She Said (1982) See more »


Brian's Song
Written and Performed by Michel Legrand Et Son Orchestre
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User Reviews

Good Lord, I hate TV movies.
30 December 2003 | by Stretch68See all my reviews

That being said, this is most definitely NOT a TV movie in the standard overacted, overly cheesy, ridiculous sense. I love this movie. Billy Dee Williams (Sayers) and James Caan (Piccolo) give the exact right emotional level to their parts, and it brings the rest of the cast into the story. I found myself laughing, hurting, and crying at various times throughout this movie. I do agree with the previous reviewer that if you can watch Sayers' speech upon winning the George Halas "Most Courageous Player" award without tearing up (or, more accurately, blubbering like a buffoon), you're probably not human.

DO NOT watch the remake - it was horrible. This movie, however, is a 9/10.

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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
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