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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


Talent made him a star, fate made him a legend. The true story of Ritchie Valens. 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?


It was said that after Ritchie Valens and Tommy Allsup flipped the coin and Ritchie says hope you freeze your balls off, Tommy says I hope the plane crashes. See more »


At the Tijuana brothel, a heavy set woman approaches Bob and Ritchie and asks, "Hey, mijo, traes ganas?" Her mouth is not moving. See more »


Bob Keene: Look... it could be worse, you could have been Riki Zuela.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


References I Love Lucy (1951) See more »


Chantilly Lace
Performed by The Big Bopper
Courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
Words & Music by The Big Bopper (as J.P. Richardson)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Fairy Tale With a Tragic End
24 February 2004 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) is a very poor Mexican-American living with his family in a slum in Paicoma, California. When he is sixteen years old, his half-brother Bob Morales (Esai Morales) is released from the jail and comes back home, bringing money enough for the family to move from the slums to a humble house in a better place. Ritchie goes to the nearby high-school, where he falls in love for Donna (Danielle von Zerneck). Donna, together with his mother Connie Valenzuela (Rosanna DeSoto), his family and his guitar, are the passions of Ritchie. Bob Keene (Joe Pantoliano), president of Del-Fi Records in Hollywood, invites Ritchie to record a single and offers him a recording contract. His first single (`Come On Let's Go') is a great success, and Bob Keene becomes Ritchie's manager. The next songs (`Donna' and `La Bamba') are also very successful and Ritchie Valens becomes famous, earning lots of money. While traveling making shows along USA, he decides to accept an invitation of Buddy Holly to fly back home. A tragic plane crash on 03 Feb 1959 ends the life of this promising seventeen years old singer, along with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. The dramatization of Ritchie Valens' life is presented like a soap-opera, full of beautiful songs, and it is very pleasant to watch this film. Lou Diamond Phillips has (maybe) his best performance as actor, but Esai Morales is wonderful as his big brother. The touching story looks like a fairy tale, having a tragic end. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): `La Bamba'

16 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Delete your post La Bamba style ... demo_deus
Did anybody else like this movie better as an adult? danielpants97-240-504594
Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie sprklndiamond87
Why was Ritchie.... lissee92
Where is Donna today? nemidwest
Live performance during credits takes away from ending travisme123
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