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Friday, March 30, 2012

Bang The Drum Slowly Film Review – DeNiro Baseball Movie

A below average Major League Baseball catcher, Bruce Pearson (Robert De Niro) learns that he is dying from Hodgskins disease. The only other player on the team that knows of Bruce’s illness is the star pitcher, Henry Wiggins (Michael Moriarity). Together they conspire to keep the illness a secret from the team and to keep Bruce playing what may be his last season of baseball.

“Bang The Drum Slowly” not what I would call an on-the-field baseball movie. This isn’t “The Natural” or “Bull Durham” where actions on the field are very relevant to the plot. The baseball scenes in “Bang The Drum Slowly” are very subdued, relatively short and feel like watching a bunch of guys going to work every day. Much of the movie is set in the locker room or the hotel where they stay (which unfortunately never seems to change).  None of the players or coaches gloat about the joy of playing baseball. Baseball is their job and they revolve their lives around it.

This blue collar feel to this film is refreshing and feels in stark contrast to fast riches and prima donna elements seen in real pro sports today. The lack of game day melodrama made it feel more original and sets Bag the Drum Slowly apart from sports flicks that have a more on-the-field formula like films “Any Given Sunday” and “Major League”

There were some troubling problems with the film that I suspect will only get worse with time.  The dialog in the film feels very dated. By 1970's standards the script isn't bad at all. I suspect seventies audiences found the dialog clever and witty. By 2000 standards the lines feel corney and a little too innocent. The occasional profane word, more risque in the seventies than now, feels unnecessary and out of place.

The costumes and soundtrack are all-so-1973 as well. Modern audiences will have a hard time appreciating the script, look and sound of this movie.

Catcher Bruce Pearson, played by Robert DeNiro, comes off as too lacking in intelligence. . You meet Pearson’s parents in the film and they seem intelligent enough but Pearson comes off as borderline mentally challenged.  Too challenged to play the responsible position of catcher.  His stupidy never finds a meaningful place in the plot either.  If understand the character Lenny in "Of Mice and Men" you'll understand what I mean. Lenny's lack of IQ was critical to flow of the movie. Pearson's I can't quite figure out why he needs to be dumb at all.  Maybe to garner audience sympathy? I'm not sure it worked.

If you did not grow up watching films in the 1970’s you probably won’t appreciate this film as much as other timeless 1970’s films such as “The Deer Hunter”, “Days of Heaven” (my review of Days Of Heaven), “Rocky”, etc.

I was glad I saw this film as I’ve been meaning to watch it probably since I was a 1980’s teenager. I think I would have liked it more if I saw it back then though. This is a film that becomes less relevant as time goes by.

96 Minutes



More Reviews of Films By TurtleDog

A Hot Girl and a Serial Killer Live Across The Street From You in Affluent Suburbia - What Do You Do ?

The Aliens Have Landed.... In The Wild Wild West?  Is This Harrison Ford Film Right For You?

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