A well-done if depressing film, BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY is a sort of baseball version of "Brian's Song," the TV movie that told the story of the extraordinary friendship between the Chicago Bears' Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer. In this film, De Niro is the dying athlete,
a journeyman big-league catcher who has contracted Hodgkin's disease. Moriarty, the team's star pitcher, becomes dedicated to his batterymate when he learns of De Niro's fatal illness and prevents him from being sent to the minors. When their teammates find out, they too belatedly make De Niro
feel like one of the boys, and, surprisingly, his playing even improves. Alas, it's all a...