2023 Tribeca Fest Film Review: ROLLING ALONG – Part 1

Bill Bradley


The review of this stellar documentary style movie about American Renaissance Man Bill Bradley’s poetic one-man Broadway show in late December, 2021, does not follow the regular format of a film review. Rather, it is rooted in a speculative nonfiction, impressionistic expository style allowing for more than normal imaginative and contextual story-telling techniques and nontraditional approaches.

ROLLING ALONG premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Fest (June 7–18) and it resonated like an enigmatic, bittersweet, raconteuring memoir which also provided a compelling dish of Americana rarely seen on the Big Screen. Bradley’s talking about intimately personal and professional moments and periods of his life – woven into a nonfiction film narrative – is arresting.

This film should be seen, and seen more than once. Serious filmgoers, cinephiles, aficionados and film buffs know good and really good films have to be seen more than once since it’s rare for viewers to understand all there is to a movie.This writer on first impression believed ROLLING ALONG could use a few tweaks here-and-there for a more sharpened journalistic, documentary edge. But later it was obvious that screenwriting Bradley, for this this gem, knew what he wanted in style, substance and aesthetics. The result is picture perfect.

A Raconteuring Renaissance Man

I was surprised at the visceral sensations I was experiencing as I screened the film. They eventually exerted strong sways on the writing of this review and the sways were surprising if not startling. In Part II of this review flushes out anecdotes and vignettes for Bradley’s superb, idiosyncratic, story-telling.

ROLLING ALONG also resonates like a self-effacing swan-song in anticipation of the proverbial light at the end of a tunnel. Prescient? Bradley is forthright. He talks about himself in a manner referential to urgent societal and sociopolitical currents, and he does this in a philosophically manner that can create inexplicable connections with audiences as it did with this reviewer. He is not sanctimoniousness and he is nonpartisan.

I felt what I believed was an inexplicable affinity to Bradley. Yet, I also believe legions and legions of people have felt an infinity to him, inexplicable or otherwise, in a sense, when they publicly “crossed paths” with him at the college and professional basketball days and his campaign trails.

I believe that many reviewers of ROLLING ALONG, with their four and five-star reviews, struggled trying to answer the question: Why did Bradley – listed as the writer – make this movie? Award winning film veteran Mike Tollin, who directed ROLLING ALONG, was the producer for several sporting films before he and Bradly hooked up. For example, RADIO (2003) feature; COACH CARTER, (2005), feature; HANK ARONSON (1996), documentary; SPORTS THEATER WITH SHAQUILLE O’NEAL (1996-1998), TV Series.

ROLLING ALONG set off echoes of times past for this writer who, in a various unexpected ways, crossed paths with the Renaissance Man. Such as a time in 1964 in a Princeton-Cornell basketball face off, I, a starter on the Big Red freshman team, was sitting in a row behind the varsity ¬players in Barton Hall – in support, obviously – watching Bradley warm up with hook shots, left and right hand, him moving steadily further from the basket, as the crowd reacted excitedly at each swish.

Bill Bradley

{I had a right hook I occasionally used and a left-hook that needed some work but I eventually stopped using the left. I had worked hard on my hooks … but I came across someone who took “hard work” to a higher level I hadn’t imagined at the time. Many months before that Princeton-Cornell game of long ago, back in a Southside Chicago YMCA gym one Sunday morning, I was going (more like trying to go) 1-on-1 with Cazzie Russell, featured in ROLLING ALONG.}

{And then there were two of my students when I was an assistant journalism professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus, who worked on his senatorial campaign. I bumped into Bradley one time a few years later in in small town in Maine. I was just getting off a ferry as he and a accomplice were about to board. At that time, I was teaching journalism at the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University.}

Feeling that affinity: We are both Ivy League alumni – him, Princeton Tigers; me, Cornell Big Red; and members of our respective university athletic halls of fame for basketball, though Bradley, of course, belongs to that pantheon of American celebrity. Bradley was initiated in 2009 to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Feeling that affinity: Cazzie Russell, a former Bradley’s New York Knicks teammate featured in ROLLING ALONG: I squared off against Russell in a South Chicago morning YMCA opened-Sunday-b-ball-court joust when I was in my senior year at Mt. Carmel High School and he, on several All American College Teams back then, was on his way to an amazing career at the University of Michigan.

Click Here for Part II


Gregg W. Morris can be reached at gregghc@comcast.net, profgreggwmorris@gmail.com