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Bang The Drum Slowly

Bang The Drum Slowly (1973)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 25
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 3

Bang the Drum Slowly is a touching melodrama that explores the inner workings of a baseball club and its players' personalities with remarkable depth.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0

Bang the Drum Slowly is a touching melodrama that explores the inner workings of a baseball club and its players' personalities with remarkable depth.



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 3,638

My Rating

Movie Info

A guaranteed tear-jerker, Bang the Drum Slowly centers on professional baseball player Bruce Pearson (Robert DeNiro) and his team mate Henry Wiggen (Michael Moriarty), who supported Bruce to the bitter end after learning that the young catcher was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and would soon die. When hayseed Pearson first joined the team, he and Wiggen, the team's red-hot pitcher were oil and water. The other team members were none to thrilled to have Pearson on their team. Wiggen changes


Drama, Sports & Fitness, Classics, Comedy

Mark Harris

Mar 4, 2003

Paramount Pictures

Watch It Now



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All Critics (25) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (3) | DVD (3)

A funny, gentle and honestly sentimental movie that is easily one of the best of the year in any category, and very possibly the best movie about sport ever made in this country.

August 3, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Never before has a movie considered the game from the inside out.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is one of those rare instances in which close adaptation of a good book has resulted in possibly an even better movie.

May 21, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This sports melodrama about a dying athlete is sentimental and predictable, but it's also very well acted by the young De Niro, Vincente Gardenia and Michael Moriarty.

March 3, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Talky, leisurely, and poetic baseball drama.

September 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

It was first filmed for television, where it seems best suited as a 'disease of the week' movie.

September 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Mention this flick to any guy over 40 and watch him get all weepy.

March 21, 2007 Full Review Source:

A well-done if depressing film.

March 14, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

It's a good film, avoiding all the obvious goop and the 'big game' cliché at the climax.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Unfortunately, no real relationships are ever developed in this film, so, even with Robert DeNiro playing the lead, something always seems to be lacking.

July 5, 2005 Full Review Source:

Low key character study of baseball player dying; De Niro, Moriarty are fine.

June 11, 2005

Finally, a baseball melodrama with a full count of emotional impact. Hancock's narrative delivers the right pitch of intensity

June 24, 2004

A great baseball movie and a touching buddy film with De Niro showing the talent that has made him one of our best actors. Moriarity gives a fine performance as his star-pitcher friend.

January 7, 2004
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

You don't have to understand baseball to appreciate this one, which is probably just as well.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Another one of those films better remembered than revisited.

March 26, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central | Comments (3)
Film Freak Central

It's a must-see for anyone, be they a fan of the grand old American pastime, or simply someone who likes being told a real classic human tale.

December 24, 2001 Full Review Source:

Professional baseball forms the setting for a realistic, sometimes touching comedy-drama that could find great favor with the public.

April 26, 2001 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for Bang The Drum Slowly

In 1973, two films were released that featured two very different performances from a young Robert DeNiro. One was his first collaboration with director Martin Scorsese in "Mean Streets" and the other was "Bang The Drum Slowly". However, despite the critical plaudits DeNiro received for the former, it's was arguably this film that caught everyone's eye beforehand. Either way, they both marked the arrival of, what would be, one of cinema's finest performers.
Henry Wiggen (Michael Moriarty) is the star pitcher of a New York professional Baseball team. He's the type of player that can name his price when it comes to contractual negotiations. On hearing the news that his friend (and surplus-to-requirements) teammate Bruce Pearson (Robert DeNiro) is terminally ill, Henry negotiates a contract that will keep Bruce in team and save him from being transferred. Henry's intention is to give Bruce a memorable last season at the club.
On first appearances, this film comes off as a cheap TV movie with a music score that isn't far from something as cheesy as "Little House on the Prairie". Quite simply, the music is dreadful but the performances manage to transcend it's dated approach. It's interesting watching a young DeNiro before the heights of stardom and it's easy to see that he's always had the acting ability. There's an innocence and lack of self-confidence to his character and he plays it wonderfully. This, however, adds to another problem in the film; his talents are not utilised as well as they could be. It's Moriarty that takes the lead and although he also delivers a solid performance, he comes across a little expressionless at times. Despite both actors playing well, the close relationship between their characters is never explained and leaves it hard to fully connect with them or accept the events that take place. That being said, the film does still have a heart and a lightness of touch which help it overcome it's faults. It's not a story about a dying man but more a story about life and living it fully. It's a story about integrity and the camaraderie and teamwork amongst men. It's also somewhat of a sports film but that becomes secondary to the human relationships. With material of this nature, the film could easily fall prey to cliche but it manages to avoid the pitfalls which is thanks to it's sensitivity and assured handling by director John Hancock. It's an enjoyable film but left me feeling a little frustrated at DeNiro being so underused. I know he wasn't a star at this time but when he's as good as he is here, you just want to see more. What it does do though, is show that he's always had a magnetic screen presence.
A touching and poignant drama that also manages to be an understated sports film. Not many films manage to achieve this balance and despite some flaws and it's now dated appearance, this is still worthy of attention: if only, to witness the early stages of a very illustrious career.
October 10, 2012

Super Reviewer

The most boring baseball movie I've ever seen, and I like baseball, but I couldn't get into this movie. The plot is predictable, and the characters aren't interesting.
December 29, 2010

Super Reviewer

It's a slow-paced little movie about ball players, and one happens to be dying of an incurable disease. It doesn't jump off the screen and captivate viewers, but only because the writing is so pedestrian. DeNiro's performance isn't particularily noticeable, but that's only because of how low-key it is. In fact, all the performances are lowkey, and it's only when Moriarty smashes up a locker room after being confronted with the pain of his friend dying, that we see a spark of life here. The entire team squabbles a little, but as each team member learns of the catcher's disease, they become more empathetic towards one another, until by the end of the movie, they're all singing songs together. This movie had a definite potential, I just don't feel it reached it.
April 16, 2009
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

A sweet, compassionate picture that ultimately comes out mediocre. Failing to find a nice balance between comedy and tragedy, the movie meanders along without leaving a lasting impression. That being said, it's fairly entertaining and Robert De Niro is outstanding.
March 13, 2009

Super Reviewer

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