The Bad News Bears


1h 42m 1976

Brief Synopsis

The coach of a losing little league team brings in a female pitcher.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bad News Bears, Björnligan
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

Washed up minor leaguer, Morris Buttermaker has become a lazy, beer swilling, swimming pool cleaner who takes money to coach a bunch of disheveled misfits who have no baseball talent. Realizing what he's up against, he recruits girl, pitching ace Amanda Whurlizer and Kelly Leak, a motorcycle punk who is also the best player around. Brimming with confidence, the Bears look to take the championship from their arch rivals, the Yankees

Film Details

Also Known As
Bad News Bears, Björnligan
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

The Bad News Bears (1976)


A 1997 Washington Post profile described Walter Matthau, fairly accurately many would agree, as resembling "a giant grumpy question mark with a three-pack-a-day habit, flecks of pastrami in his teeth and really bad clothes." It's hard to imagine that an actor who actually got his start understudying the role of an 83-year-old bishop in Rex Harrison's 1948 Broadway production of Anne of the Thousand Days would develop into such an unforgettable comic icon. But Matthau himself hated being called a comic actor, although he also acknowledged that comedy was far more difficult to play than drama or tragedy.

His early stage, film and TV career rarely tapped into his comic talents. He was most often cast as the heavy in Westerns and crime dramas. He didn't really get to show his comic chops until his first teaming with frequent screen partner Jack Lemmon in The Fortune Cookie (1966). As scheming shyster Fast Willie Gingrich, Matthau walked off with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and embarked on a whole new phase in his career. His reputation was further cemented by his portrayal of the gruff, slovenly sports writer Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple (1968), the second of nine movies he would make with Lemmon.

By the time of The Bad News Bears, Matthau's trademark look and curmudgeonly demeanor were well established, and well suited to the role of Morris Buttermaker, a lazy, beer-swilling former minor leaguer who's been reduced to cleaning swimming pools for a living. Given the chance to make some money as a Little League coach, Buttermaker takes on a team of misfit kids with virtually no athletic ability. He brings in two kids - a girl pitching wiz and a street-smart young punk - who prove to be not only the team's saviors but major handfuls on and off the field.

The inspired casting at work here matches up a crotchety loser (Matthau) with a headstrong young girl played by Tatum O'Neal, making her second picture after her Oscar-winning debut in Paper Moon (1973), with her father, Ryan O'Neal. Tatum was, for a time, America's foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking sweetheart, an image that played her off perfectly against Matthau.

The Bad News Bears proved to be such a hit, it spawned two sequels - The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978). But without Matthau and O'Neal, the follow-ups fared poorly, both critically and commercially. They also lacked director Michael Ritchie, a master of sharp satires on contemporary life. As he proves in this film, Ritchie is at his best when he casts his rather jaundiced eye on such "All-American" themes as beauty pageants (Smile, 1975), professional sports (Semi-Tough, 1978) and competitive teens and their even more competitive parents (The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, 1993).

Directed: Michael Ritchie
Producer: Stanley R. Jaffe
Screenplay: Bill Lancaster
Cinematography: John A. Alonzo
Production Design: Polly Platt
Music: Jerry Fielding
Cast: Walter Matthau (Morris Buttermaker), Tatum O?Neal (Amanda Whurlitzer), Jackie Earle Haley (Kelly Leak), Vic Morrow (Coach Roy Turner), Ben Piazza (Councilman Whitewood).
C-102m. Closed captioning. Letterboxed.

by Rob Nixon
The Bad News Bears (1976)

The Bad News Bears (1976)

A 1997 Washington Post profile described Walter Matthau, fairly accurately many would agree, as resembling "a giant grumpy question mark with a three-pack-a-day habit, flecks of pastrami in his teeth and really bad clothes." It's hard to imagine that an actor who actually got his start understudying the role of an 83-year-old bishop in Rex Harrison's 1948 Broadway production of Anne of the Thousand Days would develop into such an unforgettable comic icon. But Matthau himself hated being called a comic actor, although he also acknowledged that comedy was far more difficult to play than drama or tragedy. His early stage, film and TV career rarely tapped into his comic talents. He was most often cast as the heavy in Westerns and crime dramas. He didn't really get to show his comic chops until his first teaming with frequent screen partner Jack Lemmon in The Fortune Cookie (1966). As scheming shyster Fast Willie Gingrich, Matthau walked off with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and embarked on a whole new phase in his career. His reputation was further cemented by his portrayal of the gruff, slovenly sports writer Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple (1968), the second of nine movies he would make with Lemmon. By the time of The Bad News Bears, Matthau's trademark look and curmudgeonly demeanor were well established, and well suited to the role of Morris Buttermaker, a lazy, beer-swilling former minor leaguer who's been reduced to cleaning swimming pools for a living. Given the chance to make some money as a Little League coach, Buttermaker takes on a team of misfit kids with virtually no athletic ability. He brings in two kids - a girl pitching wiz and a street-smart young punk - who prove to be not only the team's saviors but major handfuls on and off the field. The inspired casting at work here matches up a crotchety loser (Matthau) with a headstrong young girl played by Tatum O'Neal, making her second picture after her Oscar-winning debut in Paper Moon (1973), with her father, Ryan O'Neal. Tatum was, for a time, America's foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking sweetheart, an image that played her off perfectly against Matthau. The Bad News Bears proved to be such a hit, it spawned two sequels - The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978). But without Matthau and O'Neal, the follow-ups fared poorly, both critically and commercially. They also lacked director Michael Ritchie, a master of sharp satires on contemporary life. As he proves in this film, Ritchie is at his best when he casts his rather jaundiced eye on such "All-American" themes as beauty pageants (Smile, 1975), professional sports (Semi-Tough, 1978) and competitive teens and their even more competitive parents (The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, 1993). Directed: Michael Ritchie Producer: Stanley R. Jaffe Screenplay: Bill Lancaster Cinematography: John A. Alonzo Production Design: Polly Platt Music: Jerry Fielding Cast: Walter Matthau (Morris Buttermaker), Tatum O?Neal (Amanda Whurlitzer), Jackie Earle Haley (Kelly Leak), Vic Morrow (Coach Roy Turner), Ben Piazza (Councilman Whitewood). C-102m. Closed captioning. Letterboxed. by Rob Nixon

TCM Remembers - Michael Ritchie


Director Michael Ritchie died April 16th at the age of 62. A Wisconsin native, Ritchie studied at Harvard before succumbing to the attractions of the theatre. He started working in television during the 1960s where he directed episodes of The Big Valley and The Man from UNCLE among others. He moved into feature films with Downhill Racer (1969) at star Robert Redford's invitation and later directed Redford again in The Candidate (1972). The latter is a classic look at American political life that hasn't lost any of its power or insights over the years. This was the start of Ritchie's most productive period when he made several films that were both popular and critically acclaimed. You can find his sly wit and sense of critical drama in Smile (1975), The Bad News Bears (1976) and Semi-Tough (1978). By the 1980s, though, Ritchie's films focused less on social criticism and more on stars. The Survivors (1983) with Robin Williams remains under-rated but Ritchie-directed vehicles for Eddie Murphy (1986's The Golden Child), Bette Midler (1980's Divine Madness) and Chevy Chase (two Fletch films) didn't quite achieve their potential. Some of the old Ritchie spark and intelligence appeared in the made-for-cable The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993) which earned him a Directors Guild Award. One of his final films was the long-awaited screen adaptation of The Fantasticks (1995) which partly brought Ritchie back to his theatrical roots.

ANN SOTHERN: 1909 - 2001
Actress Ann Sothern passed away on March 15th at the age of 89. Her film career spanned sixty years and included a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for The Whales of August (1987) and several Emmy nominations for her roles in the TV shows Private Secretary (1953) and The Ann Sothern Show (1958). Sothern was born as Harriette Lake in North Dakota. She made her first film appearance in 1927 in small roles (so small, in fact, that some sources omit any films before 1929) before deciding to work on Broadway instead. Shortly afterwards she signed with Columbia Pictures where studio head Harry Cohn insisted she change her name because there were already too many actors with the last name of Lake. So "Ann" came from her mother's name Annette and "Sothern" from Shakespearean actor E.H. Sothern. For most of the 1930s she appeared in light comedies working with Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, Mickey Rooney and Fredric March. However, it wasn't until she switched to MGM (after a brief period with RKO) and made the film Maisie (1939) that Sothern hit pay dirt. It proved enormously popular and led to a series of nine more films through 1947 when she moved into dramas and musicals. During the 50s, Sothern made a mark with her TV series but returned to mostly second tier movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally she earned an Oscar nomination for her work in 1987's The Whales of August (in which, incidentally, her daughter Tisha Sterling played her at an earlier age). Turner Classic Movies plans to host a retrospective film tribute to her in July. Check back for details in June.

TCM Remembers - Michael Ritchie

Director Michael Ritchie died April 16th at the age of 62. A Wisconsin native, Ritchie studied at Harvard before succumbing to the attractions of the theatre. He started working in television during the 1960s where he directed episodes of The Big Valley and The Man from UNCLE among others. He moved into feature films with Downhill Racer (1969) at star Robert Redford's invitation and later directed Redford again in The Candidate (1972). The latter is a classic look at American political life that hasn't lost any of its power or insights over the years. This was the start of Ritchie's most productive period when he made several films that were both popular and critically acclaimed. You can find his sly wit and sense of critical drama in Smile (1975), The Bad News Bears (1976) and Semi-Tough (1978). By the 1980s, though, Ritchie's films focused less on social criticism and more on stars. The Survivors (1983) with Robin Williams remains under-rated but Ritchie-directed vehicles for Eddie Murphy (1986's The Golden Child), Bette Midler (1980's Divine Madness) and Chevy Chase (two Fletch films) didn't quite achieve their potential. Some of the old Ritchie spark and intelligence appeared in the made-for-cable The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993) which earned him a Directors Guild Award. One of his final films was the long-awaited screen adaptation of The Fantasticks (1995) which partly brought Ritchie back to his theatrical roots. ANN SOTHERN: 1909 - 2001 Actress Ann Sothern passed away on March 15th at the age of 89. Her film career spanned sixty years and included a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for The Whales of August (1987) and several Emmy nominations for her roles in the TV shows Private Secretary (1953) and The Ann Sothern Show (1958). Sothern was born as Harriette Lake in North Dakota. She made her first film appearance in 1927 in small roles (so small, in fact, that some sources omit any films before 1929) before deciding to work on Broadway instead. Shortly afterwards she signed with Columbia Pictures where studio head Harry Cohn insisted she change her name because there were already too many actors with the last name of Lake. So "Ann" came from her mother's name Annette and "Sothern" from Shakespearean actor E.H. Sothern. For most of the 1930s she appeared in light comedies working with Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, Mickey Rooney and Fredric March. However, it wasn't until she switched to MGM (after a brief period with RKO) and made the film Maisie (1939) that Sothern hit pay dirt. It proved enormously popular and led to a series of nine more films through 1947 when she moved into dramas and musicals. During the 50s, Sothern made a mark with her TV series but returned to mostly second tier movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally she earned an Oscar nomination for her work in 1987's The Whales of August (in which, incidentally, her daughter Tisha Sterling played her at an earlier age). Turner Classic Movies plans to host a retrospective film tribute to her in July. Check back for details in June.

Quotes

I got a Harley Davidson. Does that turn you on? Harley Davidson?
- Kelly
All we got on this team are a buncha Jews, spics, niggers, pansies, and a booger-eatin' moron!
- Tanner Boyle
Come on, fellas. Rome wasn't built in a day.
- Coach Morris Buttermaker
Yeah, it took several hundred years.
- Ogilvie
I know I don't got a lot up there, but what I got sure don't feel too good.
- Amanda
Well, your mother and I didn't got along too well, Amanda. I liked her very much, though. I still do. As a matter of fact I'm just not the marrying kind. But I guess I handled it badly, huh?
- Coach Morris Buttermaker
You handled it like shit!
- Amanda Whurlitzer

Trivia

When Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is getting into his car after leaving Councilman Whitewood's office, there's a sign in the background for a production of "Hello, Dolly". Matthau played Horace Vandergelder in _Hello, Dolly (1969)_

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States July 1984

Released in United States Spring April 7, 1976

Released in United States Spring April 7, 1976

Released in United States July 1984 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (50 Hour Sports Movie Marathon) July 5-20, 1984.)