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Brian's Song (1971)

James Caan , Billy Dee Williams , Buzz Kulik  |  G |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Caan, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Warden, Bernie Casey, Shelley Fabares
  • Directors: Buzz Kulik
  • Writers: Al Silverman, Gale Sayers, William Blinn
  • Producers: Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Chinese, Thai
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 8, 2000
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004TJQJ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,733 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Brian's Song" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Exclusive Featurette: "Gale Sayers: First and Goal"

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This highly-acclaimed winner of five Emmy Awards is one of the best-loved movies ever made for television. It's the true story of a special relationship between two professional football players, Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Brian Piccolo (James Caan). Both star players for the Chicago Bears, Sayers and Piccolo soon became roommates and best friends. When Sayers suffers a knee injury in mid-season, it is Piccolo who prods and inspires him to work toward a complete recovery. Then fate deals a cruel blow: Piccolo is stricken with malignant cancer. The constant support and friendship of Sayers plays an important role in Piccolo's heroic fight against the disease. Also starring Shelley Fabares (TV's Coach) as Piccolo's loving wife, BRIAN'S SONG is a moving and unforgettable film.

Additional Features

Audio commentary by costars James Caan and Billy Dee Williams is typical memory-book stuff, with both actors (mostly Caan) casually reminiscing about the filming of Brian's Song. Caan had just finished The Godfather, so his star was quickly rising, and he spent much of the time carousing and playing practical jokes with players from the Chicago Bears football team. Williams, in contrast, was a relative unknown getting a big career break, and he approached the filming with utter seriousness. These differences in personality clearly helped each actor in creating the opposites-attract nature of their on-screen friendship. The commentary is far too casual to be of lasting interest, but Caan is a playful raconteur who's always fun to listen to. The exclusive documentary "Gale Sayers: First and Goal" offers a welcomed update from the former football star, whose memories of gridiron greatness--and his deep friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo--provide poignant resonance to the Sayers-Piccolo story, which hasn't lost a bit of its emotional impact. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXTRAORDINARY... October 22, 2000
I was fifteen years old when "Brian's Song" premiered as a "Movie of the Week" on ABC-TV. I had no interest in sports then (I still don't), and had no intentions of watching this movie, but my dad persuaded me. "Just watch the first few minutes," he said. He knew that this was NOT a sports movie. He had read Gale Sayers' book "I Am Third" (upon which this movie is partially based), and knew that this was a movie about PEOPLE, not about football. The fact that the two lead characters are football players is almost incidental. This is a movie about friendship, love and courage. Needless to say, I watched it from start to finish, and have watched it many times since. Although its roots as a TV movie are obvious (the production values are nothing more than ordinary), "Brian's Song" is one of the most extraordinary films ever made, a particularly remarkable achievement when you consider its length of only 74 minutes. James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, both virtual unknowns at the time, play Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers with a sense of realism, and with respect for their real-life counterparts. Jack Warden is excellent (as always) as coach George Halas, and Shelley Fabares and Judy Pace turn in fine performances as Joy Piccolo and Linda Sayers. David Huddleston and Bernie Casey make the most of their small parts, and even real-life Chicago Bears provide some fine moments, particularly the "hazing" sequence. The sincere performances, along with William Blinn's beautifully-written teleplay, keep the action from becoming mawkish or sappy, Buzz Kulik's direction brought out the best in his actors, and Michel Legrand's score comments on the emotions in the film with exactly the right tone. Read more ›
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why re make it??? November 30, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Whe I heard that the folks at ABC were remaking "Brian's song",
I was really upset... Why tamper with success,and why remake one of the most beautiful movies ever! I saw Brian's song during its original broadcast back in 1971, and thought it was one of the best. James Caan and Billy Dee Williams are superb as Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. The supporting cast, including Shelly Fabares as Joy and Judy Pace as Linda are also excellent as is Jack Warden as Papa Bear Halas. If you really want to see this movie go for the original!
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I DARE YOU NOT TO CRY YOUR EYES OUT December 27, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Brian's Song is one of the saddest movies ever made, based on the too-true story of the black/white friendship between Gale Sayer and Brian Piccolo. James Caan does a credible, if self-absorbed job as Brian -- his sickly scenes definitely do not hold up as well as you might remember, and though this movie definitely looks and sounds dated, it still packs a powerful emotional punch, in the same way that Terms of Endearment does. Beware: you are headed for very rough waters. And that Michel Legrand theme song, a classic for the ages, turns the nozzle to full-tilt. That final still image remains firmly etched in my mind, and the special relationship engendered here carries a special weight as one of the first of its kind ever seen in a film.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic for the Ages May 20, 2007
I have watched Brian's Song many, many times over the years and with every viewing, I am warmed by this story of friendship, courage and hope. It is based on the true story of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, two Chicago Bears football players who played back in the 1960's.

Like many movies based on life, certain aspects of the story are fictionalized. For example, Brian did not have cancer in his right lung as the movie attests, but embryonal cell carcinoma in his chest cavity that eventually metastasized to his left breast and left lung, heart and liver--and even into his jaw. He did not die as easily or look nearly as healthy as Cann does; his illness and death are really sanitized and "Hollywood-ized". Also, although Brian and Gale were good friends in real life, they were not best friends. However, Caan and Williams do a brilliant job portraying their characters and it is easy to believe from their performances that these two characters do indeed care for one another.

There are several moving moments in this movie. The locker room scene is particularly touching because many of the players featured in this scene had heard the *real* Gale Sayers tell them that "Pic is sick. . .real sick" only a year and a half before, so we can assume the tears welling up in the players' eyes are genuine. Ed O'Bradovich and Dick Butkus, both of whom were friends of Piccolo's (and were pallbearers at his funeral), make appearances in the film.

Another great touch is the archival footage of Sayers and Piccolo running the ball and making touchdowns. Not only does the footage remind us of what an amazing player Sayers was and the dogged determination to succeed that Brian possessed, it reminds us that these people were real, that they did indeed exist.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I'm a huge sports fan. I want to be a sports writer and it's stuff that Brian's Song that makes me want to do it even more.
Brian's Song is based on the true story of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. Both were rookies when they joined the Chicago Bears. Brian Piccolo(Caan) was the funny loudmouth that everybody loved. He wans't the most gifted athlete in the world and his determination made him the player that he was. Gale Sayers(Williams) was the quiet one. He was the easily the most talented player on the team maybe in the league. The two are paired as roomates and the friendship starts.
The two are opposites and don't get along that well at first. Opposites attract and they especially do with these two. They quickly feed off each other though and become the best of friends. They fuel each other and are inspeperable. They become the first white and black roomates in the NFL. They ignore the whole idea of race and are like brothers.
When Sayers tears his ACL the next year Brain gets the chance to step up and show his talent. He however feels for his friend and is determined to get Gale back into his form as the best RB in the league. There bond becomes even stronger during this time as does the friendship of there families.
The tide changes though when Brian starts not to play well. It's a new season and the two are enjoying finally playing with each other as one of the best backfields in the league. Brians play starts to diminsh though and he's sent to the doctor. What the doctor finds is that Brian has cancer and is terminal. It's now up to Gale to help his friend through this most difficult time of his life.
This movie isn't about football. It's about the bond of love and friendship that these two men have for each other.
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