Monday, April 1, 2013

Bang the Drum Slowly

During spring training, while in the middle of a contract dispute, the star pitcher (Michael Moriarty) of the fictitious New York Mammoths (the NY Giants in real life) takes a rookie, childlike catcher (Robert De Niro) under his wing after learning exclusively that he is dying of Hodgkin's Disease. Based on the 1956 novel by Mark Harris, John D. Hancock's "Bang the Drum Slowly" is a funny, deeply felt film, invested with a humanity that so many other disease movies lack. It was also the film that, when released alongside 'Mean Streets", shot De Niro to stardom. In addition to De Niro, who is excellent, he is joined by a fine cast which is highlighted by Vincent Gardenia as the cantankerous coach and Moriarty who is quite good in the leading role.