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Baseball Movies for Grownups

Catch up on some classic old-timers on DVD

Back to Play Ball! Main PageBang the Drum  Slowly (1956, 1974) Mark Harris’ landmark baseball novel, about a slick star pitcher and the simple-minded third-string catcher he befriends, was terrifically realized in ’74 with a young Robert De Niro as the ill-fated, awkward country boy. Vince Gardenia was nominated for an Oscar as their prototypically gruff manager. By all means, see it — but do yourself a favor: Get onto YouTube and type in “Bang The Drum Slowly Paul Newman.” You’ll witness the last couple of minutes of an out-of-circulation, Golden Age of TV version starring an impossibly young Newman. He plays the pitcher, and his closing monologue will leave you in tears, guaranteed. Here is a splendid example of how sports movies often manage to delve into the most secret parts of the human heart.

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