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Bang the Drum Slowly [VHS] (1974)

Michael Moriarty , Robert De Niro , John D. Hancock  |  PG |  VHS Tape
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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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: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Paramount
  • VHS Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300216608
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,596 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
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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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From here on in, I rag nobody....... June 16, 2003
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
"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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Movie! June 18, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Film Finally out in DVD Version June 15, 2003
By A Customer
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars BORING....
Very slow moving and boring. Production quality is very low as well. Better off to watch something else for sure.
Published 4 months ago by Brandon Kalicki
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't hold my interest
Although a sad movie in the vein of a Brian's song I just found this movie hard to sit through.
The story line is very slow moving and at least for me did not hold my... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Chris DeLaPaz
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare low budget movie
I was so pleased to find the movie, let alone get it for a reasonable price!! I was skeptical because I bought it used, but the movie arrived in good condition. Read more
Published 12 months ago by 1949 CLASSIC
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
You would think that a movie about someone who is dying would be all about sorrow, but not so. This is a great movie about people caring for each other, and helping each other... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Heather McRae
2.0 out of 5 stars This movie is fundamentally flawed
I saw this movie years and years ago. After reading and loving the novel I was excited to find out there was a movie version of it. Read more
Published on June 26, 2012 by L. Rime
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Story..Awkward On Field Scenes
Suffice it to say: Danny Aiello is never going to win a Gold Glove. The trouble with this movie is the baseball playing. Read more
Published on May 3, 2012 by Bucs21
2.0 out of 5 stars Should be called "Bang my head slowly"
I'm a transplanted Yankees fan, and heard that this was a good "Sports" movie.

I've tried to watch this movie 4 or 5 times, and always with the same result. Read more
Published on May 2, 2012 by J. Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars To An Athlete Dying Young
Like A.E. Housman's famous poem, "Bang the Drum Slowly" is a poignant lament for a young man cut down at the height of his physical prowess. Read more
Published on February 16, 2012 by Tim Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars A multi-faceted film
One thing I always look forward to when I watch this film is the humor. While it is a weeper, there are many hilarious bits that are generally related to baseball. Read more
Published on May 29, 2011 by T. Bayard Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent acting by Michael Moriarty
"Bang the Drum Slowly" is a 1973 adaptation of a 1956 TV program (Paul Newman and Albert Salmi) based on the Mark Harris novel of the same name. Read more
Published on April 18, 2010 by Dr. James Gardner
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