Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
The Brian's Song of baseball movies, Bang The Drum Slowly follows two friends, and teammates, after one is told he is terminally ill with Hodgkin's disease. A young Robert De Niro plays the stricken, and slightly stupid, ballplayer Bruce Pearson, as his life dwindles alongside his friend, and star pitcher Henry Wiggen (Michael Moriarty), who both play for the fictional New York Mammoths. Released before Mean Streets, Bang The Drum is widely regarded as the beginning of De Niro's major stardom, and for good reason. His portrayal of Pearson will bring tears to the most ardent cynic's eyes, even if the film's message of camaraderie over winning fails to resonate with you.
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