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Year: 1987
Director: Luis Valdez

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Cast:

Lou Diamond Phillips (Ritchie Valens), Esai Morales (Bob Morales), Rosanna DeSoto (Connie Valenzuela (as Rosana De Soto)), Elizabeth Peña (Rosie Morales), Danielle von Zerneck (Donna Ludwig), Joe Pantoliano (Bob Keane), Rick Dees (Ted Quillin), Marshall Crenshaw (Buddy Holly), Howard Huntsberry (Jackie Wilson), Brian Setzer (Eddie Cochran), Daniel Valdez (Lelo), Felipe Cantu (Curandero), Eddie Frias (Chino), Mike Moroff (Mexican Ed), Geoffrey Rivas (Rudy), Sam Anderson (Mr. Ludwig), Maggie Gwinn (Mrs. Ludwig), Jeffrey Alan Chandler (Alan Freed), Stephen Lee (Big Bopper), John Quade (Bartender)

Storyline:

This is the true story Ritchie Valens a young rock & roll singer who tragically died in an aircrash at the age of 17. The film follows Ritchie from his days in Paicoma, California where he in and his family makes a meagre living working at plantations to his rise as a star. The film also focus on Richies friendship and rivalry with his older brother Bob and his relationship with Donna, his girlfriend.

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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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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