63 user 17 critic

La Bamba (1987)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 24 July 1987 (USA)
1:22 | Trailer

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Biographical story of the rise from nowhere of early rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens who died at age 17 in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.



3,333 ( 294)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Connie Valenzuela (as Rosana De Soto)
Rick Dees ...
Marshall Crenshaw ...
Howard Huntsberry ...
Daniel Valdez ...
Felipe Cantu ...
Eddie Frias ...
Geoffrey Rivas ...


This is the true story of Ritchie Valens, a young rock and roll singer who tragically died in a plane crash at age 17. The film follows Ritchie from his days in Pacoima, California where he and his family make a meager living working on farms to his rise as a star. The film also focuses on Ritchie's friendship and rivalry with his older brother Bob Morales and his relationship with Donna Ludwig, his girlfriend. Written by Mattias Pettersson <seaman@sbbs.se>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Born to poverty. Destined for stardom. He lived the American Dream. See more »


Biography | Drama | Music


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 July 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Let's Go  »

Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)


$54,215,416 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Toward the end of the movie, when Ritchie and Donna are cruising down the road, Ritchie asks Donna if she'll wait to marry him. He says "Just till I'm 25 and I have a big, glass cabinet to keep all my gold records in". Lou Diamond Phillips actually was 25 during filming. See more »


Ritchie wears/plays a white Harmony archtop guitar in several scenes. On the headstock appears the words "Steel Reinforced Neck". This did not appear on Harmony guitars until the 1960s. See more »


Buddy Holly: The sky belongs to the stars.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Caption starting off the music credits: "We greatfully acknowledge the help and support of the Valenzuela family". See more »


References King Kong (1933) See more »


Words & Music by Ritchie Valens
Performed by Los Lobos
Courtesy of Slash Records
Produced by Steve Berlin
See more »

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User Reviews

Oh,what could have been
16 April 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ritchie Valens was a young,vibrant rock and roll star.At 17,he could already write songs,sing,and was an absolute wizard with a guitar.I'm too young to remember the real Valens,but when I think of him,as well as other stars who died tragically young,I can't help but wonder what might have been.This young man was only getting started in his stardom when he was cut down all too soon in the same plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.This film did a great job of bringing the legend of Valens back to life if only for a couple of hours.Lou Diamond Phillips gave the performance of his career here,as Valens,even though he didn't really look much like the real man in my opinion.Being the role he is best known for,I'm sure it is also one he has tried to escape from in the 15 years since its' release.As far as historical accuracy,I have heard discrepancies as to how the story really went,but you know Hollywood,things always have to be spiced up just a little.Overall,this movie is great fun,especially for old rock and roll enthusiasts such as myself.Thumbs up!

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Live performance during credits takes away from ending travisme123
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