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Brian's Song
     

Brian's Song

3.6 3
Director: Buzz Kulik

Cast: James Caan, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Warden

 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Pete Segall
Football is not an emotionally tender game. Almost nothing in pigskin mythology compares to baseball's halcyon "Boys of Summer" glow, or Lou Gehrig's sad farewell to the Yankees. Football is the sport of trench warfare, and the trenches are no place for crybabies. Unless you bring up Brian's Song. Historically speaking, Brian Piccolo was not a very good player. A stellar running back at Wake Forest University in the '60s, Piccolo rarely stood out during his pro career with the Chicago Bears. But Brian's Song isn't really a story about the game of football. It is the story of the very powerful friendship that developed between Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), the Bears' All-Pro running back, the superstar behind whom Piccolo rides the bench. Piccolo is white, and Sayers is black, but the two bond; when Sayers suffers a debilitating knee injury, Piccolo supports him through his recovery. Sayers, whose book I Am Third served as the basis for this revered TV movie, is helpless to watch as his friend is stricken with and slowly succumbs to malignant cancer. Veteran TV director Buzz Kulik, whose work here earned a Director's Guild Award, does not hold back on sentiment, giving us lingering scenes of the two friends struggling mightily to overcome their ailments; and the Michel Legrand score can raise a lump in the sternest of throats. Caan and Williams are appropriately sober, but neither is too exuberant in victory or too pitiful in defeat to degrade the movie to schmaltz. Although it is an unabashed tearjerker, Brian's Song remains a profoundly moving story of two brothers in arms; noble warriors who find life's cruelest blows are struck outside the trenches.
All Movie Guide - Ryan Shriver
At 74 minutes, Brian's Song is one of the most effective and efficient television movies ever made. Documenting the true and tragic friendship between legendary Chicago Bears stars Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo (played by Billy Dee Williams and James Caan, respectively), the film also manages to overcome the trappings of a typical buddy film or sports drama of this sort by also addressing some of the larger social issues -- primarily racism -- of the time period. That said, director Buzz Kulik simply doesn't have enough time to adequately explore these topics -- considering the ground he attempts to cover over the course of the film's spartan running time. Instead -- and rightly so -- emphasis is given to the unique, socially defiant relationship the two men had, the success of which rests squarely on the performances of Williams and Caan. And both actors rise to the occasion and then some with amazing portrayals layered with a tremendous psychological depth, as well as a profoundly touching camaraderie. While far from a superior film, Brian's Song is still a moving dramatic document that holds a special place in the hearts of American-style football enthusiasts everywhere.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/23/1994
UPC:
0043396601567
Original Release:
1970
Rating:
G
Source:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Caan Brian Piccolo
Billy Dee Williams Gale Sayers
Jack Warden Coach George Halas
Bernie Casey J.C. Caroline
Shelley Fabares Joy Piccolo
Judy Pace Linda Sayers
David Huddleston Ed McCaskey
Ron Feinberg Veteran Player 2
Ji-Tu Cumbuka Roommate
Jim Boeke Veteran Player
Doreen Lang Nurse 1
Allen Secher Hotel Man
Stu Nahan Speaker
Mario Machado 1st Reporter
Jack Wells Toastmaster
Dick Butkus Himself

Technical Credits
Buzz Kulik Director
Joseph Biroc Cinematographer
William Blinn Screenwriter
Michel Legrand Score Composer
Tony Thomas Associate Producer
Paul Junger Witt Producer

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3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this is the best movie that I have ever waked because it tells a story about the truth about football every thinks it easy to come back from an accident and still be able to play.I had it happened to me but now I am back and I do not take anything easy anymore I hit harder then ever before.I love football and anything about football.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Easily one of the top 10 best ever made for TV movies. A young James Cann and Billy Dee Williams make it ever more interesting. Do your best to MAN UP, but get a box of tissue just in case. It's a powerful tear jerker. I was a "kid" (12-13)when I first saw the movie, the race realations element really got my attention. Thank GOD things have changed....
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a great movie for people that suffering from insomina. you will be cured after watching this movie