"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. But this mixture works amazingly well, and for that reason you'll remember this film, and the narrator's final words, for a long time."He wasn't a bad fellow. No worse than most and probably better than some."Simple as that. "Lay it on thin.""
From here on in, I rag nobody.......
Archmaker | California | 06/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""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. The story is told with an odd mixture of dead-pan delivery that is unsentimental and yet is very touching in the last analysis. Bittersweet.Although they avoid the big emotional "moment", the film builds its emotions slowly and carefully, and when it is done if you haven't been moved by this funny/sad story, well....too bad for you. Well worth your time, for some laughs, some tears, an insight or two and some sterling performances by Michael Moriarty and Robert DeNiro who hit all the right notes."I don't know why you don't live it up all the time when dieing's just around the corner, but you don't. You'd think you would, but you don't." 4-1/2 Stars all the way."
This is the "Brian's Song" of baseball movies
Archmaker | 08/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie some twenty years ago and certain of the images have stuck with me all that time. This is not a baseball movie in the conventional sense so if you're expecting to kick back and enjoy the game, forget it. This movie has the same relationship to baseball as does "The Natural". Baseball is the backdrop for two friends, one a pitcher destined for stardom the other a somewhat simple minded roster player, his catcher. Unfortunately for the catcher, played very, very well by a young DeNiro, fate has intervened in the form of Hodgkins disease. The grittiness, competitive nature, raw desire and humor necessary to make it through what he knows will be his last season should be a lesson to us all.I bet in twenty more years I'll still have the memory of Moriarty and DeNiro running across the outfield together with that incredible music in the background. It leaves a lump in my throat. What a fantastic image."
Melvin Hunt | Cleveland,, Texas United States | 06/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the film that you will not forget.This is a story of two roommates attempting to get through one final season. Michael plays the role of a pitcher who is the roommate of Robert DeNiro who plays the role of the catcher.DeNiro is
diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. Michael as his roommate and
intimate friend helps DeNiro cope with Hodgkins as well as
make the season to the end. This is one of the more touching
films that I have watched.It would compare to "Brian's Song"
as far as being emotional.DeNiro,in this movie definitely showed
signs of great things to come for him.And,who could ever forget
the haunting song that accompanied the movie.A definite must see."
Classic Film Finally out in DVD Version
Melvin Hunt | 06/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bang the Drum Slowly is a film for anyone who loves sublime acting, droll humor, and a moving story that celebrates the human spirit. If you're a baseball fan, it's an added plus.The two stars--Michael Moriarty and Robert deNiro--debuted as leading men in this film and just watching these two youthful actors giving brilliant performances (as a likeably egocentic pitcher and his unsophisticated teammate) is a joy for movie fans. Vincent Gardenia is equally effective (and wonderfully funny) as the team's coach. The story---while dealing with the impending death of the team's pitcher played by deNiro----is never obvious, overdone or sentimental. Instead, the film affirms the values of friendship and teamwork with great subtlety and intelligence.Bang the Drum Slowly recently appeared on the NY Times list as one of the 1,000 greatest films ever made. I say the choice is right on."