Monday, July 11, 2016

Forgotten Movies/TV: BRIAN'S SONG

 

 Brian’s Song (1971)



Director: Buzz Kulik
Stars: James Caan, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Warden

Brian’s Song, the widely praised 1970 made-for-TV movie was about pro football great Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and his Chicago Bears teammate/best friend Brian Piccolo (James Caan ) It's a tear-jerker of the first magnitude. Because of the caliber of its cast, it would have been a good sports movie in its own right, but the ending pivots it into something else.

Sayers and Piccolo were the first-ever interracial roommates in the NFL  history, an arrangement that established a close relationship. Piccolo was at beast an average player. Sayers was a star. But then Piccolo developed cancer, and that’s when the tears will start flowing for the toughest of viewers. Stars of this magnitude didn't turn up on TV very often in 1971. Play a few bars of that theme song, and I will be mush.

12 comments:

George said...

I cried when I first saw this movie.

Anonymous said...

I defy anyone to say they DIDN'T cry when they watched this movie!

Btw, I think this movie must have been rereleased theatrically at some point because I distinctly remember seeing it in a movie theater circa 1972/3.

--Deb

Richard Robinson said...

It is a 5 tissue movie, I do think I remember a theater release, perhaps in a new cut, (Jeff will know, I'm sure) I've seen it two or three times. Not forgotten so much as well deserving of this reminder.

Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, I remember this one, Patti! And yes, it's definitely emotionally affecting.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Yeah, but they weren't "stars of this magnitude" at the time! THE GODFATHER was the year after BRIAN'S SONG which, it can be fairly argued, made Caan's career.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This was a movie everyone saw in one place or another. Perhaps the high ratings led to a theatrical release.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I think that might be right, but my memory is vague.

Not vague: it was a huge mistake making a remake (but then, they remade PSYCHO, so...) in 2001.

Charles Gramlich said...

Now that movie I saw, and liked. Tear jerker for sure

Yvette said...

I vaguely remember watching this back than, and crying. Terrific movie. Could only watch it once, it was so heart-rending.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I defy anyone to watch it without crying. Well, maybe my husband.

Todd Mason said...

I've yet to see more than a few minutes. Caan was definitely doing KRAFT SUSPENSE THEATER episodes in the early/mid '60s...and often good ones.

Todd Mason said...

Just last week, in reading a passage from a Ted Turner biography, I learned the Atlanta ABC station had a contract with one of the local pro teams when this was first broadcast, so pre-empted the ABC feed to run the game...and Turner;s Channel 17, WTCG (Turner Communications Group) in those years before turning it into WTBS, had already started clearing the pre-emptions for ABC in Atlanta...and ran the premiers of BRIAN'S SONG in pattern with ABC, to the highest ratings WTCG had ever gotten...the ABC affiliate's sports coverage got at best one fifth the audience.