Brian's Song (1970) - Rotten Tomatoes

Brian's Song (1970)




Critic Consensus: Buoyed by standout performances from James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, Brian's Song is a touching tale of friendship whose central relationship transcends its standard sports movie moments.

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Movie Info

One of the best known and most enthusiastically reviewed made for television films of the 1970's, this drama was based on the true story of football greats Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo. Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Piccolo (James Caan) both joined the Chicago Bears the same year, and while it was obvious from the start Sayers had the talent and drive to be a great player, Piccolo seemed destined to be an also-ran on the team. However, Sayers and Piccolo struck up a friendship which brought out the best in both players, and coach George Halas (Jack Warden) chose them for a special assignment -- they became the first interracial roommates in the history of the NFL. When Sayers suffered a knee injury that threatened to end his career, Piccolo took it upon himself to help his friend through rehabilitation so he could rejoin the team. But when Piccolo began having heath problems, it was a problem too great for Sayers to handle -- his close friend had developed cancer. Adapted from Sayers' autobiography I Am Third, Brian's Song also features Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus as himself.

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Billy Dee Williams
as Gale Sayers
James Caan
as Brian Piccolo
Judy Pace
as Linda
Ji-Tu Cumbuka
as Roommate
Jim Boeke
as Veteran Player
Doreen Lang
as Nurse 1
Allen Secher
as Hotel Man
Stu Nahan
as Speaker
Mario Machado
as 1st Reporter
Jack Daniel Wells
as Toastmaster
Dick Butkus
as Himself
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Critic Reviews for Brian's Song

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (2)

On its own, somewhat obvious level, Brian's Song worked. Not least in its favor were two exceptionally fine performances: James Caan as Brian Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers.

August 31, 2016 | Full Review…
New York Times
Top Critic

Made-for-TV eyewash for disheartened Bears fans to drown their sorrows in.

January 25, 2008 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Weepy story of interracial pro football teammates.

December 22, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Common Sense Media

The film's emotions are obvious and blunt, but they get the job done.

January 25, 2008

It remains the best example of the most different of men competing fairly and getting along peacefully ever filmed.

December 6, 2005 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for Brian's Song

Good film. Great character portrayals by James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. The chemistry and camaraderie between the two is what makes this film so great. Brian's Song is worth seeing, even if you're not a fan of football.

Stephen Skudlarek
Stephen Skudlarek

Super Reviewer

Oh, How Melo-Drama was enjoyable in the 70's! Now a days, You can't even last a minute with a movie like that. In Brian's song Case, I lasted the whole film, enjoying moderate parts of it. Also, no matter How much, i love football, i do not shed tears, only Old Yeller, can get that close.

Joseph Eastmond
Joseph Eastmond

Super Reviewer


If you thought this was a bit sappy in 1970 you should watch it again. The thing practically oozes with overt sentimentality. Still, it's an indelible childhood memory for men of my generation and an almost iconic piece of '70s Americana. ...and yes, it still makes me cry (dammit).

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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