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Brian’s Song

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Brian's Song (1971) starring James Caan, Billy Dee Williams
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Brian’s Song is a truly great film about an unlikely friendship between two football players. How they’re thrown together, and become both friends and competitors at the same time. And when one suffers an injury that could end his career, the other helps him rehabilitate – to beat him fair and square. And then, the other friend faces cancer …

Brian’s Song (1971) starring James Caan, Billy Dee Williams


Let me say: I’m not a big sports guy. Nor a football fan. That really doesn’t matter. Brian’s Song is a story about two very different men, from very different backgrounds, thrown together. Despite this, and the fact that they’re both competing for the same position, they become best friends. It doesn’t happen overnight, and the audience gets to watch them come to respect, and like, each other. Then, Gale Sayers suffers a career-ending injury.

But Brian Piccolo won’t let him off that easily. He pushes his friend, relentlessly, in his physical rehabilitation. He’s determined to get Gale back to 100%. Not only for his friend’s benefit, but so that he can defeat him fair and square on the playing field. And, despite all odds, he succeeds! But then, Brian’s physically getting weaker for some reason.


And Gale does his very best to return the favor, and help his friend recover.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Brian’s Song: it’s not a happy ending. It’s truly heartbreaking, and wonderful, and highly recommended. It won 5 Emmys — and deserved every one of them. I rate it a very rare 5 stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From the manufacturer

Brian’s Song 

Story of the friendship between Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, two Chicago Bears team-mates, and the tragedy that affects the entire team 

A groundbreaking television event, BRIAN’S SONG is dramatic a true story based on the unique relationship that devel­oped between the black Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and the late white athlete, Brian Piccolo (James Caan), star players for the Chicago Bears football team. 

Beginning with their first meeting amid the struggle for a starting backfield assignment, a friendship blossoms between Sayers and Piccolo. At the height of the competition, Sayers suffers a severe knee in­jury that threatens to end his career. He makes a full recovery but fate throws a cruel downfield block after Piccolo discovers he has cancer. It’s up to Sayers to help Brian wage a heroic fight against a deadly enemy. 

Product Description 

This highly-acclaimed winner of five Emmy Awards is one of the best-loved movies ever made for television. It’s the true story of a special relationship between two professional football players, Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Brian Piccolo (James Caan). Both star players for the Chicago Bears, Sayers and Piccolo soon became roommates and best friends. When Sayers suffers a knee injury in mid-season, it is Piccolo who prods and inspires him to work toward a complete recovery. Then fate deals a cruel blow: Piccolo is stricken with malignant cancer. The constant support and friendship of Sayers plays an important role in Piccolo’s heroic fight against the disease. Also starring Shelley Fabares (TV’s Coach) as Piccolo’s loving wife, BRIAN’S SONG is a moving and unforgettable film.

Cast of characters

  • James Caan (Rollerball) … Brian Piccolo
  • Billy Dee Williams (Batman (1989)) … Gale Sayers
  • Jack Warden (Being There) … Coach Halas
  • Bernie Casey (Gargoyles (1972)) … J.C. Caroline
  • Shelley Fabares (The Donna Reed Show; Coach) … Joy Piccolo
  • David Huddleston … Ed McCaskey
  • Judy Pace … Linda Sayers
  • Abe Gibron … Abe Gibron
  • Jack Concannon … Jack Concannon
  • Ed O’Bradovich … Ed O’Bradovich
  • Chicago Bears … The Chicago Bear Players
  • The Chicago Bears Coaches … The Chicago Bear Coaches
  • The Chicago Bears Staff … The Chicago Bear Staff
  • Harold ‘Happy’ Hairston … Veteran Player #1 (as Happy Hairston)
  • Ron Feinberg … Veteran Player #2
  • Ji-Tu Cumbuka (Blacula) … Roommate
  • Jim Boeke … Veteran Player #3
  • Larry Delaney … Dr. Fox
  • Stephen Coit … Mr. Eberle
  • Doreen Lang … Nurse #1
  • Jennifer Kulik … Nurse #2 (as Jeni Kulik)
  • Allen Secher … Hotel Man
  • Stu Nahan … Speaker
  • Mario Machado … Reporter #1
  • Bud Furillo … Reporter #2
  • Jack Wells … Toastmaster
  • Dick Butkus (Gus) … Dick Butkus (uncredited)
  • Mike Ditka … Mike Ditka (archive footage) (uncredited)
  • January L’Angelle … Girl in Hospital (uncredited)

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