58 user 21 critic

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

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.


John D. Hancock (as John Hancock)


Mark Harris (novel), Mark Harris (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Moriarty ... Henry
Robert De Niro ... Bruce
Vincent Gardenia ... Dutch
Phil Foster ... Joe
Ann Wedgeworth ... Katie
Patrick McVey Patrick McVey ... Bruce's Father
Heather MacRae ... Holly
Selma Diamond ... Tootsie
Barbara Babcock ... Team Owner
Maurice Rosenfield Maurice Rosenfield ... Team Owner
Tom Ligon ... Piney
Andy Jarrell Andy Jarrell ... Ugly
Marshall Efron ... Bradley
Donny Burks Donny Burks ... Perry
Hector Elias ... Diego


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


Nothing is more important than friendship. Not fame, not money, not death.


Drama | Sport


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Pearson calls Henry by the nickname "Arthur". He does so because he misunderstands Henry's actual nickname, "Author", which Henry acquired after writing his first book, "The Southpaw". See more »


Although released in 1973, the Oakland A's and the Cleveland Indians are still wearing their uniforms from the 1971 season. This was done because the real Major League footage in the film was from the 71 season. See more »


[last lines]
Henry Wiggen: From here on in, I rag nobody.
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Referenced in Hollywood's Top Ten: Batter Up! (2011) See more »


Bang the Drum Slowly
Music by Stephen Lawrence
Lyrics by Bruce Hart
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User Reviews

Early Deniro
15 August 2008 | by kairinglerSee all my reviews

Being a baseball fan for 30+ years; i really enjoyed this movie, it's a good baseball story about a relationship between the ace pitcher and a catcher, the movie features various quirky players and such, but mainly focuses on these two. If you're not a baseball fan , then maybe the story about the friendship between the two will draw you in,, if on the other hand you are looking for lots of action, crashes , stuff like that,, look elsewhere, this is one of those movies that is very touching to the soul, makes you think about life in general; Robert Deniro gives an excellent performance as Pearson the catcher, maybe not his best performance but way better than average,, the rest of the cast features Michael Moriarity, a small bit from Danny Aiello, and a few others who i can't remember, but all in all it was a good touching story about a catcher trying to help his team with the World Series. A thumbs up from this baseball fan.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

9 March 1978 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Bang the Drum Slowly See more »


Box Office

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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