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Bang the Drum Slowly (Widescreen)

Michael Moriarty , Robert De Niro , John D. Hancock    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 47.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Only those with ice water in their veins won't get misty-eyed watching this moving film about the friendship of two professional baseball players, one of whom--in every sense--is playing his last season. A pre-stardom Robert De Niro portrays a rather simple-minded rookie catcher who comes under the wing of a veteran pitcher (Michael Moriarty). When De Niro's character is diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, Moriarty tries to help him get through one more season. Directed by John Hancock and based on the novel by Mark Harris (who also wrote the screenplay), the film builds on baseball's ability to foster its own lore of courage, nobility, loyalty, and--sadly--tragedy. Watching the youthful De Niro and Moriarty, with all that promise in their bones, adds to the overall romance of the film today. Also appearing are Vincent Gardenia and Danny Aiello. A perennial favorite for many. --Tom Keogh

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb movie but needs extras April 24 2004
Format:DVD
"Bang the Drum Slowly" is a line taken from the cowboy dirge "The Steets of Laredo" which is about a cowboy dying young."Bang the Drum Slowly" which is based on a novel by the same name, is about a dying dim-witted, country boy catcher and a sophisticated, star pitcher. The catcher (Pearson), played by Robert DeNiro, is dying from Hogkin's disease and the only one who knows about it is the Michael Moriarty character (Arthur). The story goes on how Arthur is suddenly nice to Pearson. No one knows why and everyone becomes more resentful of Pearson. Slowly everyone learns that Pearson is dying and starts to treat Pearson nicer. In addition, the team, a talented but bickering group of ballplayers, are finally united because of Pearson's condition and go on to win the series. The continued subtle references to the business side of baseball pulls us back to the harsh reality of life and prevents the movie from being too corny. The movie is superb, but the DVD would have been better if some extras were included especially if there were something about history of free agency in baseball. $124,000 is not even the the base pay of today's rookie major leaguer, but in 1974 (when the movie was made) this was a huge amount of money. 1974 was also significant because this was the year that Andy Messersmith of the Dodger's challenged the reserve clause and became the first free agent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars From here on in, I rag nobody....... June 16 2003
Format:VHS Tape
"Plain old mother talk aint no ways strong enough to describe such a terrible mixup is life, Arthur. But I swear, my son's been handed one s**t deal!"
One of the finer movies of its era, Bang the Drum Slowly is the story of a big-league pitcher, superbly played by Michael Moriarty, and his roommate, a catcher dieing from Hodgkin's disease played by a young Robert DeNiro in a wonderful performance that will come as a surprise to many used to the, by now familiar, DeNiro persona. Here he is a dumb-as-dirt, but amiable Georgia farm boy and he is absolutely believable in the role.
A touching story told with great humor, I think it one of the best baseball movies made, though it really isn't about baseball. This is the 70's, before super star salaries and temperaments have forever changed the game, when Managers were still King and the top salary of an ace pitcher was 100K. The film is told at a leisurely pace, 70's style, somewhat episodically, which will put some off.
Quite frankly I loved the sidetrips and distractions, because it allows a great cast to all have their moments. Vincent Gardenia as Dutch, the prototypical big league Manager "Never mind the facts, give me details" a cigarette forever planted on his lower lip, ashes dripping down his chest; Phil Foster hooking unsuspecting fans to play TEGWAR (The Exciting Game Without Any Rules)with himself & Arthur; Patick McVey as the father; Marshall Ephron as the weasely Bradley; the scheming Ann Wedgewood: Selma Diamond, Danny Aiello and others.
The story is narrated by Moriarty, and that narration and much of the dialogue is done in beautifully articulate mangled English. It feels lived-in.
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4.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT TITLE FOR A GREAT FILM May 24 2001
Format:VHS Tape
In the Mark Harris novel (which I suggest you read before watching the movie) Henry Wiggen, the narrator, often says to himself "Lay it on thin, boys." He fears that Bruce, the terminally ill catcher, may suspect false sentiment if his teammates treat him too well, as he has been the butt of their jokes in the past. Bang the drum "slowly" suggests only a modicum of fanfare, and that is exactly what makes this film great.
Against the backdrop of Big League baseball, the viewer is given only small glimpses of DeNiro's character's pain. Too many films dealing with death as the major theme pour it on heavy. Who wants to sit and cry for an hour and a half, for God's sake? What's the point in that? It's as much what you DON'T see that gives the film its depth, and that is, in itself, a breath of rarefied cinematic air.
Excellent performances abound here. The young DeNiro is nearly perfect as the slow - witted yet big - hearted country boy. Moriarty shines as Henry Wiggen, the big time pitcher, card hustler, insurance salesman, author and ultimately big brother to the doomed catcher. Vincent Gardenia is just plain hilarious as the manager of the fictional New York Mammoths, a team loaded with talent, yet fraught with eccentric players and inner turmoil.
What begins as a secret (Bruce, the catcher's, illness) is ultimately leaked to the other members of the team, and in the end, he unknowingly pulls them together.
Moriarty and DeNiro "lay it on thin," each giving subtle, yet dead on performances. Watching the friendship of the two characters grow is one of many things that makes Bang the Drum Slowly a special film. Your heart will not be torn out at every turn. On the contrary - there are more comic scenes than dramatic ones.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bang the Drum resonates with emotional meaning March 3 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
'Bang the Drum Slowly' is the best type of film. It is engaging while you are watching it, and you still think about it days after you last saw it. Solid acting and a well-written, theme-laden story immediately snag the audience's attention. The film is humble in the scale of its focus on baseball and friendship, but the snapshots of romance, family and business add an emotional element to the story that would not have been there if the two main themes were stuck to. DeNiro and Moriarty do a great job with the two main characters. DeNiro does a great job aside from occasionally lapsing from a Southern GA accent to his typical NY Drawl (really, this is only evident a few times). Moriarty gives his character many facets as an all-star pitcher and an estute business man, but his facial expressions seem to be to stoic to me to really convey his emotions- the character is still very effective. In addition, I enjoyed the little things about this film. The music, use of slow motion, and well-placed comic relief were all used masterfully in this film. To close, a great baseball movie, and a great movie overall.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bittersweet Film that Delivers
Bang the Drum Slowly could have been a maudlin film designed to create tears, such as Love Story in 1970, but both director John Hancock and writer Mark Harris brilliantly avoid... Read more
Published on July 9 2009 by Moodywoody
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Movie!
This is the film that you will not forget.This is a story of two roommates attempting to get through one final season. Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by Melvin Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Film Finally out in DVD Version
Bang the Drum Slowly is a film for anyone who loves sublime acting, droll humor, and a moving story that celebrates the human spirit. Read more
Published on June 15 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Half as good as the novel, but not bad.
I've always thought that this movie version of Mark Harris's wonderful novel was overrated. Moriarty is excellent, DeNiro pretty good (though it's not even close to the stunning... Read more
Published on April 19 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Slow!
Expected more from this movie - although DeNiro was good as usual.
Published on Nov. 30 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the "Brian's Song" of baseball movies
I first saw this movie some twenty years ago and certain of the images have stuck with me all that time. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of Americana
Bang the Drum Slowly is quite possibly the best baseball film ever. It rivals Sayles' 8 Men Out and Field Of Dreams and stands alone as a very complex and emotional portrayal of a... Read more
Published on March 4 2000 by Zach Derhodge
4.0 out of 5 stars An early film in the career of Robert DeNiro
This film about life behind-the-scenes in professional baseball is really quite good even though all baseball fans know the story and the team are fictitious. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars terrible baseball facts
A moving story but not one to watch for the baseball aspect. They had the Mammoths playing AL and NL teams during the season, over 20 years before inter league play. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 1999
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