Friday, August 10, 2012

43/50x2: Brian's Song

As a sports enthusiast and a football fan, I feel it was sacrilegious that I had not seen this film before. But, I pretty much knew everything about it even though I hadn't.

Brian's Song is the story of the friendship between two Chicago Bears rookies, Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams).

Both players are coming in as running backs, but come to the team in completely different ways. Piccolo will need to work as hard as possible to even make the team, while Sayers is the team's new work-house back.

Two completely different players, Piccolo has a hard time shutting up and is white while Sayers doesn't talk much and is black. But, both players form an odd friendship and become the first mixed-raced roommates for the Bears.

After an injury to Sayers, Piccolo takes over as the featured back and shows off his talents. But, he remains close with Sayers and does all he can to get him to regain his strength to get him back on the team. When Sayers comes back he retakes his position, but the team keeps Piccolo on the field as fullback.

Soon, Piccolo isn't playing up to his standard and Sayers notices - but Piccolo blames it on allergies. After a trip to the doctor it is revealed that Piccolo has cancer.

As a story, this is an amazing one - and to know that it is true makes it even that much better. But, as a film this one doesn't really have all the bells and whistles. For one, I probably should have known this, but this was a made-for-tv movie, which makes the quality pretty shotty. They also use real game footage for the games, which is ok, but the voice over during it really drove me crazy.

As for the acting, superb. You can't really go wrong with iconic actors like Williams and Caan. Caan, though, really stood out for me. If I hadn't known it was him I wouldn't have recognized him at all - he transformed into Piccolo which was outstanding.

Glad I finally watched it. Again, as a story very remarkable, but the quality of the (tv) movie was just not strong, even for a film from the '70s.

Grade:

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