Sports-oriented male soap operas aren't my bag. I mean, I can take or leave "Brian's Song." But there's something about Robert DeNiro's vulnerable performance in John Hancock's "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1973) - as Bruce Pearson, a rather slow-witted catcher from Georgia who comes down with a terminal illness - that brings a lump to my throat. Mostly because DeNiro, out of character, admirably underplays the role.
The film's indelible moment comes early on when Bruce, preparing for death, has gathered together all his baseball mementos, awards and clippings and quietly slips out one night and burns them in a farewell bonfire. The sequence lasts a few seconds but you can smell the smoke.
It stays with you forever.