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Bang the Drum Slowly (Widescreen)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Moriarty, Robert De Niro, Vincent Gardenia, Phil Foster, Ann Wedgeworth
  • Directors: John D. Hancock
  • Writers: Mark Harris
  • Producers: Maurice Rosenfield, Lois Rosenfield
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Studio: Paramount
  • Release Date: March 4 2003
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007LP8K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #66,278 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Amazon.ca

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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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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By Moodywoody TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 9 2009
Format: DVD
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 this trap by focusing on the courage and dignity of the dying catcher, Bruce Pearson (played by DeNiro), his friendship with the team's star pitcher, Henry Wiggen (played by Michael Moriarty), and the romance of the game of baseball. The film is bittersweet in that it is sad to see the death of a young man in his prime, but the film is also a celebration of the human spirit and how it deals with adversity, and in some ways, it is also a celebration of the beauty and magic of the game of baseball.

Robert DeNiro was an unknown actor when he did this film, and his performance in this film is magnificent. His character is so believable that he is able to convey to the audience aspects of Bruce Pearson and his life without words. The audience senses it knows more of the man than what is actually explained in the film simply by judging the personality presented by DeNiro's acting. As a result, this was a break out performance for DeNiro, and led to a marvelous film career. In fact, it could be argued that his performance in Bang the Drum Slowly may be his finest performance on film. It is that good.

Michael Moriarty is also excellent in this film. He displays the charisma and talent of a major movie star, and one cannot help but be surprised that he did not have a greater film career than he did.
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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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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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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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