Brian's Song [1971]

While women shed more than a few tears over Love Story back in 1970, men had their equivalent with Brian's Song on TV. This biopic about the Chicago Bears' Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers is no mere sports film. It's one of those transcendent stories that struck a rare cultural nerve, a sensitive film about love, friendship, cancer, racial harmony, and football that came along at just the right time. James Caan is at his free-spirited best as Piccolo, and Billy Dee Williams is very charming as the quiet Sayers destined for superstardom. Roommates and rivals, these two rookies soon become best friends because of their competitive natures and complementary personalities. When Piccolo becomes stricken with cancer, his relentless will to live inspires the talented Sayers to reach his athletic potential. Jack Warden, as the masterful coach George Halas, superbly manipulates the ying and yang relationship for all it's worth. Michel Legrand's melancholy theme still lingers in the mind as one of the all-time greats. --Bill Desowitz

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