7.0/10
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56 user 14 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.

Director:

John D. Hancock (as John Hancock)

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Bruce Pearson
Michael Moriarty ... Henry 'Author' Wiggen
Vincent Gardenia ... Dutch Schnell
Phil Foster ... Joe Jaros
Ann Wedgeworth ... Katie
Patrick McVey Patrick McVey ... Bruce's Father
Heather MacRae ... Holly Wiggen
Selma Diamond ... Tootsie, Hotel Switchboard Operator
Barbara Babcock ... Team Owner
Maurice Rosenfield Maurice Rosenfield ... Team Owner
Tom Ligon ... Piney Woods
Andy Jarrell Andy Jarrell ... Ugly
Marshall Efron ... Bradley
Donny Burks Donny Burks ... Perry
Tom Signorelli Tom Signorelli ... Goose Williams
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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:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

9 March 1978 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Das letzte Spiel See more »

Filming Locations:

Clearwater, Florida, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert De Niro auditioned seven times before he finally landed the lead role. See more »

Goofs

In the same at-bat Bruce Pierson is seen facing pitchers from the Pirates and Indians. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Henry Wiggen: From here on in, I rag nobody.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood's Top Ten: Batter Up! (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Home On The Range
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley and music by Daniel E. Kelley
Arranged by Nick Manolff
See more »

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User Reviews

 
This movie is astonishingly good
16 June 1999 | by jma-3See all my reviews

This is an astonishingly good movie. I had read the book at the time of its publication and thought it would make a play in the "Mr. Roberts" genre. I had not considered it as a movie, in the 50's I. don't think it could have been.

Bang the Drum Slowly is set in the world of baseball but it is not a baseball movie. However, I don't think it would have worked in today's free-agency baseball world. The characters here are all tightly tied to one club. That is the only tie they have to each other until the events of the plot unfold. One of its marginal players is terminally ill, but still functional. His roommate, a star pitcher, has the clout and the heart to make the team retain him, while not revealing why it is important to him. Much of the humor in the movies evolves from the attempts of the team's coach to find out his motive.

Robert DiNiro plays the dying catcher. He is dumb and innocent and takes everything at face value. The key line, which he delivers is "I guess everybody would be nice to everybody if they knew they were dying." That's what this movie is about. There is a great musical score, a dramatic peak in the use of the title song, and great editing. Michael Moriarty in the lead has the best role he was ever given and suits it perfectly. Robert DeNiro underplays the dying catcher to perfection and Vincent Gardenia, as the coach, plays a pretty stock role just as required.

There is nothing to criticize about Bang The Drum Slowly. It's simply wonderful. And somehow, unnoticed.


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