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La Bamba (1987)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 24 July 1987 (USA)
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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.

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3,717 ( 471)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Ritchie Valens
... Bob Morales
... Connie Valenzuela (as Rosana De Soto)
... Rosie Morales
... Donna Ludwig
... Bob Keane
... Ted Quillin
Marshall Crenshaw ... Buddy Holly
Howard Huntsberry ... Jackie Wilson
... Eddie Cochran
Daniel Valdez ... Lelo
Felipe Cantu ... Curandero
Eddie Frias ... Chino
... Mexican Ed
... Rudy
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

24 July 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Let's Go  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,651,990, 26 July 1987, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$54,215,416
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A cafe in Bundaberg Australia named La Bamba as a tribute to the film operated for a number of years with 50's memorabilia and a phone booth similar to the one Richie sang to Donna in and set up like a 50's US cafe. See more »

Goofs

After the concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Buddy Holly announces that the next stop is Fargo, North Dakota. In fact, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were headed to Morehead, Minnesota. Waylon Jennings and Tommy Alsop went to Fargo. See more »

Quotes

Ritchie Valens: Bob! Watch it! My guitar, man!
Bob Morales: Sorry. I didnt' know that piece of junk was so important to you.
Ritchie Valens: I even sleep with it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References I Love Lucy (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Corrido del Compadre
Performed by Daniel Valdez
Words & Music by Daniel Valdez
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User Reviews

 
A terrific film about the importance of family and realizing your dreams.
9 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

La Bamba which stars Lou Diamond Phillips as tragic 50's rocker Ritchie Valens(real name Richard Valenzuela) is my favorite rock bio film. The film covers the Mexican American Valens' rise from poverty in California to becoming a rock n roll superstar at the young age of 17 only to lose it all within 8 months on the "Day the Music Died".

In addition to focusing on Valens' music career, writer/director Luis Valdez spends time showing the tense relationship between Ritchie and his older brother Bob who is played excellently by Esai Morales. As Ritchie becomes famous Bob begins to resent him and that provides the film with some of its most powerful and heartbreaking scenes.

The film's other effective moments come between Ritchie and his girlfriend Donna. During their scenes together I felt that Valdez did a good job in showing what teenage romances must've been like back in the more innocent 1950's and how parents prejudices could interfere.

Last but not least is the film's great soundtrack. Ritchie Valens songs were redone for the film by the group Los Lobos. All of the instrumental music was provided by Carlos Santana and Miles Goodman. Also included are many other classic songs from the 50's.

The only small criticism I have of the film is that Valdez spends too much time in foreshadowing Valens' fate through dream sequences and references to his fear of flying. While it is documented that Ritchie did have a fear of flying I would imagine that he didn't talk about it as frequently as he does in the film.

Overall I think that La Bamba is a film about sticking to your dreams and the importance of family. I give this film a pretty strong recommendation. You don't even necessarily have to be a fan of 50's music to enjoy it. This is for those who enjoy small films that deal with the triumphs and struggles of everyday people.


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