La Bamba


1h 48m 1987

Brief Synopsis

Singer Richie Valens fights family problems and bigotry to become a recording star.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bamba
MPAA Rating
Genre
Biography
Music
Period
Release Date
1987
Production Company
Albert Aquino
Distribution Company
Sony Pictures Releasing
Location
Hollister, California, USA; San Jose, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m

Synopsis

The story of rock 'n' roll performer Ritchie Valens, who died in a plane crash in 1959, along with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.

Crew

Alana Ackley

Post-Production Coordinator

Alana Ackley

Assistant

Todd Adair

Driver

Joseph Lopez Alvez

Music

E Anderson

Song

Leroy Anderson

Song

Albert Aquino

Cable Operator

Richard Arrington

Makeup

Von Babasin

Grip

Bob Bailey

Driver

Lavern Baker

Song Performer

James Beaumont

Song

Steve Beckham

Craft Service

Jeffrey James Bell

Assistant Editor

Stuart Benjamin

Executive Producer

Steve Berlin

Song

Chuck Berry

Song Performer

Robert A Blackwell

Song

Alan C. Blomquist

Unit Production Manager

Bo Diddley

Song Performer

Michael Bodanrczuk

Production Assistant

Bill Borden

Producer

Janet Brady

Stunts

Rosemary Brandenburg

Set Decorator

Don Brochu

Editor

Arthur Brooks

Song

Richard Brooks

Song

Jane Brown

Scenic Artist

Jerry Butler

Song

Jerry Butler

Song Performer

Jerry Capehart

Song

Misty Carey

Production Coordinator

Tyran Carlo

Song

R Carr

Song

Marcy Carriker

Casting Associate

Yvonne Cervantes

Costumes

Herman B Chaney

Song

Manuel G Chavez

Song

Dick Clark

Assistant

Eddie Cochran

Song

Chuck Colwell

Director Of Photography

Jeffrey Conroy

Production Assistant

Alicia Craft

Assistant Camera Operator

Marshall Crenshaw

Song Performer

Marshall Crenshaw

Song

Vincent Cresciman

Production Designer

Vincent Cresciman

Consultant

Don Davis

Song

Howard Davis

Apprentice

Richard Davis

Location Manager

Steve M Davison

Stunt Coordinator

Steve M Davison

Stunts

Tim A Davison

Stunts

Miguel Delgado

Choreographer

Andy Dickerman

Assistant

David Diehl

Production Assistant

Willie Dixon

Song

Tom Donovan

Driver

Marylou Eales

Assistant

Sam Emerson

Photography

Lori Eschler

Production Assistant

Eduardo H. Esparza

Construction

Phil Esparza

Production Associate

Ann Farina

Song

Johnny Farina

Song

Santo Farina

Song

Ben Feldthouse

Electrician

Stephen J Fisher

Assistant Director

Jim Fox

Music

Dick Friedman

Adr Editor

Claude Fullerton

Grip

Craig Garfield

Grip

Rex Garvin

Song

Don Gehman

Song

Priscila Giraldo

Post-Production Coordinator

Priscila Giraldo

Project Manager

Miles Goodman

Music

Jerry Gordon

Driver

Mark S Gordon

Sound Editor

Berry Gordy

Song

Gwen Gordy

Song

Liz'beth Gower

Costumes

Richard Graves

Assistant Director

Adam Greenberg

Director Of Photography

Greta Gregorian

Set Decorator

Taylor Hackford

Producer

Warren Hamilton

Sound Editor

Otto Harbach

Song

Darryl Harmon

Projectionist

Darrell Hein

Assistant

Freddie Hice

Stunts

Buddy Holly

Song

Howard Huntsberry

Song Performer

Jeff Jones

Scenic Artist

Darwin Joston

Transportation Captain

Fred Judkins

Sound Editor

Sheldon Kahn

Editor

Shannon Kane

Assistant

Michael Katleman

Assistant Director

Sheldon M Katz

Production Auditor

Bob Keene

Assistant

Roger Kelton

Construction Coordinator

Jerome Kern

Song

Linda Kiffe

Property Master Assistant

Josh King

Location Manager

Rick Kline

Sound

Jono Kouzouyan

Lighting Technician

Robert Kuhn

Song

Joe Lanzl

Driver

Jerri Lauridsen

Assistant

Randlett King Lawrence

Other

Marisa Leal

Production Assistant

Jerry Leiber

Song

Walter Lester

Song

Little Richard

Song Performer

Gary Littlefield

Transportation Coordinator

Marco Lopez

Swing Gang

Junie Lowry-johnson

Casting

Thomas Luehrsen

Assistant

John Marascalco

Song

Lennie Martin

Song

James Matheny

Sound Editor

Tom Mccarthy

Sound Editor

Eugene Mcdaniel

Song

Kerry Lyn Mckissick

Script Supervisor

Beverly Mendheim

Assistant

Lisa Meyers

Hair Assistant

Donald O Mitchell

Sound

J Mitchell

Song

Rick Morton

Photography

George Motola

Song

Bill Myer

Makeup Assistant

Wayne Nelson

Driver

Kevin O'connell

Sound

Alan Oliney

Stunts

Jimmy Ortega

Stunts

Gary Parker

Key Grip

Olga Perez

Production Assistant

Dan Perri

Titles

Norman Petty

Song

Jim Pewter

Assistant

Jim Picciolo

Animal Trainer

Fulton Picetti

Assistant

John Pierce

Electrician

Vance Piper

Assistant Camera Operator

Paul Power

Visual Effects

Ted Quillin

Assistant

Alan Rice

Assistant

J P Richardson

Song Performer

Janet Roberts

Assistant

Gil Rocha

Assistant

Joseph Rock

Song

Ronnie Rondell

Stunt Coordinator

Thomas Rosales Jr.

Stunts

Stan Ross

Assistant

Jane E Russell

Other

Tanya Russell

Stunts

Carlos Santana

Music

Carlos Santana

Song Performer

Pola Schreiber

Set Decorator

Craig Scott

Driver

Winfield Scott

Song

Sylvia Sensiper

Assistant

Brian Setzer

Song Performer

R J Sharp

Dolly Grip

Sharon Sheeley

Assistant

Joel Shryack

Boom Operator

Joel Sill

Music Producer

Sindee Levin Small

Assistant

Huey P Smith

Song

Curt Sobel

Music Editor

Carrie Stein

Researcher

Charles M Stewart

Property Master

Mike Stoller

Song

Danny L Swanson

Driver

Garry Talent

Song

John Taylor

Song

Robert John Teitelbaum

Casting

The Platters

Song Performer

Billy Tilghman

Song

Susumu Tokunow

Sound

Patricia Tooke

Script Supervisor

Peter Tothpal

Hair

Daniel Valdez

Song Performer

Daniel Valdez

Song

Daniel Valdez

Associate Producer

Kinan Valdez

Assistant

Luis Valdez

Screenplay

Ritchie Valens

Song

Sylvia Vega-vasquez

Costume Designer

Joseph Verscharen

Song

Janet Vogel

Song

Todd Weisman

Swing Gang

S Weiss

Song

Terry Weldon

Assistant Art Director

Mark R Wescott

Driver

Lee America West

Production

Sunny West

Song

Tim Wienckowski

Assistant

Jack Yanekian

Electrician

Film Details

Also Known As
Bamba
MPAA Rating
Genre
Biography
Music
Period
Release Date
1987
Production Company
Albert Aquino
Distribution Company
Sony Pictures Releasing
Location
Hollister, California, USA; San Jose, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m

Articles

La Bamba


La Bamba Born in the San Fernando Valley in 1941, Richard Steven Valenzuela had a love of music instilled in him early on. By the age of 5 he was interested in making his own music and was soon taking up guitar, trumpet and teaching himself the drums. At San Fernando High, his band, The Silhouettes, were the only rock band in the area and became local stars. As the film, La Bamba (1987) reveals, Valenzuela, soon to be "Valens" (played by Lou Diamond Phillips), was discovered by producer Bob Keane (Joe Pantoliano), of Del-If Records, and what happened next was an epic American success story, with tragedy to match in equal measure.

From start to finish, the amazing success of Ritchie Valens lasted for about eight months. During that time he had three Top 10 hits: "La Bamba", "Come On, Let's Go" and "Donna". It all ended with horrible abruptness when the small plane Valens was in went down in an Iowa cornfield with tour mates Buddy Holly and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson on February 3, 1959.

Just as Ritchie Valens shattered traditions by being the first Chicano to break into the pop music charts, the film version of his life did things a different way. La Bamba's release, which included 64 Spanish-dubbed and 13 Spanish-subtitled prints across 30 cities nationwide, was the biggest of its kind at the time. Prior to that, Spanish-speaking Latinos would have to wait months for dubbed or subtitled prints produced for European and Latin American markets to come to their neighborhood theaters. For the first time, U.S. Spanish-and English-speaking populations would see the movie at the same time.

Ritchie Valens' family didn't work in the fields, as depicted in La Bamba, but director Luis Valdez's did, and it influenced him deeply. In 1965, Valdez founded El Tetra Compassion, a theatrical group rooted in Chicano experience and the cultural wing (at that time) of the United Farm Workers union. Valdez produced the hugely successful Zoot Suit (1981) on stage before it was made into a film. He became the first Chicano playwright to present a play on Broadway and continued breaking new ground with his films.

It wasn't easy to do a biopic on someone who had achieved relative sainthood in the nearly 30 years since his death. Valdez had trouble finding anything at all controversial about Valens, except through his brother, Bob (Esai Morales), who reluctantly admitted that they fought and blamed himself. Valdez used the brothers' difficult relationship and Bob's pain that Ritchie's father, who raised them both, was not his biological father as the underlying conflict in a story that wouldn't have much drama otherwise. Mario Barrera quotes Valdez in Chicanos and Film: Representation and Resistance, edited by Chon A. Noriega: "Ritchie represents the spirit of the fifties, the dream of everyman being able to cry out from his guts and rise to the top. His half-brother Bob was riddled with insecurity and he couldn't free himself to pursue his dreams Ñ he was all caught up in self-doubt."

Valdez's projects have always involved the myth and mystery of Chicano culture, and La Bamba is no exception: "'When I first pitched the idea for the screenplay, I told Taylor [Hackford] about...all the symbolism. He loved it. But [the mythic elements are] not overemphasized. It's part of the film's structure," says Valdez (Chicanos and Film: Representation and Resistance).

Through the image of the snake, first shown in the film's opening shot and again when Ritchie and Bob visit the Tijuana curandero, who skins one and tells Ritchie the story of creation, Valdez offers references to the Aztec sky serpent, Quetzalcoatl, and its evil opposite--Tezcatlipoca, the envious and corrupting influence that eventually destroys Quetzalcoatl. This mythology frames the painful conflict between Ritchie and Bob: the success of the one seems unstoppable, except by the other, who can't get out of his own way. In Valdez's telling of Valens' tragic end, it is Bob who essentially kills his brother when he accidentally tears off the curandero's protective talisman Valens wears around his neck. Valens seems to feel what fate is coming his way throughout the film. From his reoccurring, grainy nightmare of a plane exploding over a junior high playground (which did actually kill Valens' childhood friend), to his intense fear of flying, Valens is stalked by premonition.

The music of La Bamba is performed memorably by Los Lobos, with some admirable lip-synching by Phillips. The film, which was considered a small indie production, did well among critics. Carlos Santana and Miles Goodman received the 1988 BMI Film Music Award and the film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama.

Producers: Bill Borden, Taylor Hackford
Director: Luis Valdez
Screenplay: Luis Valdez
Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Music: Miles Goodman, Carlos Santana
Film Editing: Don Brochu, Sheldon Kahn
Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips (Ritchie Valens), Esai Morales (Bob Morales), Rosana DeSoto (Connie Valenzuela), Elizabeth Pena (Rosie Morales), Danielle von Zerneck (Donna Ludwig), Joe Pantoliano (Bob Keene), Rick Dees (Ted Quillen), 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).
C-108m. Letterboxed.

by Emily Soares
La Bamba

La Bamba

La Bamba Born in the San Fernando Valley in 1941, Richard Steven Valenzuela had a love of music instilled in him early on. By the age of 5 he was interested in making his own music and was soon taking up guitar, trumpet and teaching himself the drums. At San Fernando High, his band, The Silhouettes, were the only rock band in the area and became local stars. As the film, La Bamba (1987) reveals, Valenzuela, soon to be "Valens" (played by Lou Diamond Phillips), was discovered by producer Bob Keane (Joe Pantoliano), of Del-If Records, and what happened next was an epic American success story, with tragedy to match in equal measure. From start to finish, the amazing success of Ritchie Valens lasted for about eight months. During that time he had three Top 10 hits: "La Bamba", "Come On, Let's Go" and "Donna". It all ended with horrible abruptness when the small plane Valens was in went down in an Iowa cornfield with tour mates Buddy Holly and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson on February 3, 1959. Just as Ritchie Valens shattered traditions by being the first Chicano to break into the pop music charts, the film version of his life did things a different way. La Bamba's release, which included 64 Spanish-dubbed and 13 Spanish-subtitled prints across 30 cities nationwide, was the biggest of its kind at the time. Prior to that, Spanish-speaking Latinos would have to wait months for dubbed or subtitled prints produced for European and Latin American markets to come to their neighborhood theaters. For the first time, U.S. Spanish-and English-speaking populations would see the movie at the same time. Ritchie Valens' family didn't work in the fields, as depicted in La Bamba, but director Luis Valdez's did, and it influenced him deeply. In 1965, Valdez founded El Tetra Compassion, a theatrical group rooted in Chicano experience and the cultural wing (at that time) of the United Farm Workers union. Valdez produced the hugely successful Zoot Suit (1981) on stage before it was made into a film. He became the first Chicano playwright to present a play on Broadway and continued breaking new ground with his films. It wasn't easy to do a biopic on someone who had achieved relative sainthood in the nearly 30 years since his death. Valdez had trouble finding anything at all controversial about Valens, except through his brother, Bob (Esai Morales), who reluctantly admitted that they fought and blamed himself. Valdez used the brothers' difficult relationship and Bob's pain that Ritchie's father, who raised them both, was not his biological father as the underlying conflict in a story that wouldn't have much drama otherwise. Mario Barrera quotes Valdez in Chicanos and Film: Representation and Resistance, edited by Chon A. Noriega: "Ritchie represents the spirit of the fifties, the dream of everyman being able to cry out from his guts and rise to the top. His half-brother Bob was riddled with insecurity and he couldn't free himself to pursue his dreams Ñ he was all caught up in self-doubt." Valdez's projects have always involved the myth and mystery of Chicano culture, and La Bamba is no exception: "'When I first pitched the idea for the screenplay, I told Taylor [Hackford] about...all the symbolism. He loved it. But [the mythic elements are] not overemphasized. It's part of the film's structure," says Valdez (Chicanos and Film: Representation and Resistance). Through the image of the snake, first shown in the film's opening shot and again when Ritchie and Bob visit the Tijuana curandero, who skins one and tells Ritchie the story of creation, Valdez offers references to the Aztec sky serpent, Quetzalcoatl, and its evil opposite--Tezcatlipoca, the envious and corrupting influence that eventually destroys Quetzalcoatl. This mythology frames the painful conflict between Ritchie and Bob: the success of the one seems unstoppable, except by the other, who can't get out of his own way. In Valdez's telling of Valens' tragic end, it is Bob who essentially kills his brother when he accidentally tears off the curandero's protective talisman Valens wears around his neck. Valens seems to feel what fate is coming his way throughout the film. From his reoccurring, grainy nightmare of a plane exploding over a junior high playground (which did actually kill Valens' childhood friend), to his intense fear of flying, Valens is stalked by premonition. The music of La Bamba is performed memorably by Los Lobos, with some admirable lip-synching by Phillips. The film, which was considered a small indie production, did well among critics. Carlos Santana and Miles Goodman received the 1988 BMI Film Music Award and the film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama. Producers: Bill Borden, Taylor Hackford Director: Luis Valdez Screenplay: Luis Valdez Cinematography: Adam Greenberg Music: Miles Goodman, Carlos Santana Film Editing: Don Brochu, Sheldon Kahn Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips (Ritchie Valens), Esai Morales (Bob Morales), Rosana DeSoto (Connie Valenzuela), Elizabeth Pena (Rosie Morales), Danielle von Zerneck (Donna Ludwig), Joe Pantoliano (Bob Keene), Rick Dees (Ted Quillen), 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). C-108m. Letterboxed. by Emily Soares

Noble Willingham (1931-2004)


Noble Willingham, the gruffly voiced character actor best known for his role as saloon owner C.D. Parker on Chuck Norris' long-running series Walker, Texas Ranger, died of natural causes on January 17th at his Palm Springs home. He was 72.

Born on August 31, 1931 in Mineola, Texas, Willingham was educated at North Texas State University where he earned a degree in Economics. He later taught government and economics at a high school in Houston, leaving his life-long dreams of becoming an actor on hold until the opportunity presented itself. Such an opportunity happened when in late 1970, Peter Bogdonovich was doing some on-location shooting in south Texas for The Last Picture Show (1971); at the urging of some friends, he audition and won a small role in the picture. From there, Willingham slowly began to find work in some prominent films, including Bogdonovich's Paper Moon (1973), and Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974). Around this time, Willingham kept busy with many guest appearances on a variety of popular shows: Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Waltons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Rockford Files and several others.

Critics didn't take notice of his acting abilities until he landed the role of Leroy Mason, the soulless plant manager who stares down Sally Field in Norma Rae (1979). Few could forget him screaming at her, "Lady, I want you off the premises now!" with unapologetic malice. It may have not been a likable character, but after this stint, better roles came along, most notably the corrupt Dr. Fenster in Robert Redford's prison drama Brubaker (1980); and the evil sheriff in the thriller The Howling (1981).

By the late '80s, Willingham was an in-demand character actor, and he scored in three hit films: a border patrol sergeant - a great straight man to Cheech Marin - in the ethnic comedy Born in East L.A.; his wonderfully avuncular performance as General Taylor, the military brass who was sympathetic to an unorthodox disc jockey in Saigon, played by Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam (both 1987); and his good 'ole boy villainy in the Rutger Hauer action flick Blind Fury (1988). His performances in these films proved that if nothing else, Willingham was a solid backup player who was adept at both comedy and drama.

His best remembered role will no doubt be his six year run as the genial barkeep C.D. Parker opposite Chuck Norris in the popular adventure series Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-99). However, film reviewers raved over his tortured performance as a foul-mouthed, bigoted boat salesman who suffers a traffic downfall in the little seen, but searing indie drama The Corndog Man (1998); the role earned Willingham a nomination for Best Actor at the Independent Spirit Awards and it showed that this ably supporting performer had enough charisma and talent to hold his own in a lead role.

In 2000, Willingham tried his hand at politics when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Democrat Max Dandlin in a congressional campaign in east Texas. After the experience, Willingham returned to acting filming Blind Horizon with Val Kilmer in 2003. The movie is to be released later this year. Willingham is survived by his wife, Patti Ross Willingham; a son, John Ross McGlohen; two daughters, Stari Willingham and Meghan McGlohen; and a grandson.

by Michael T. Toole

Noble Willingham (1931-2004)

Noble Willingham, the gruffly voiced character actor best known for his role as saloon owner C.D. Parker on Chuck Norris' long-running series Walker, Texas Ranger, died of natural causes on January 17th at his Palm Springs home. He was 72. Born on August 31, 1931 in Mineola, Texas, Willingham was educated at North Texas State University where he earned a degree in Economics. He later taught government and economics at a high school in Houston, leaving his life-long dreams of becoming an actor on hold until the opportunity presented itself. Such an opportunity happened when in late 1970, Peter Bogdonovich was doing some on-location shooting in south Texas for The Last Picture Show (1971); at the urging of some friends, he audition and won a small role in the picture. From there, Willingham slowly began to find work in some prominent films, including Bogdonovich's Paper Moon (1973), and Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974). Around this time, Willingham kept busy with many guest appearances on a variety of popular shows: Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Waltons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Rockford Files and several others. Critics didn't take notice of his acting abilities until he landed the role of Leroy Mason, the soulless plant manager who stares down Sally Field in Norma Rae (1979). Few could forget him screaming at her, "Lady, I want you off the premises now!" with unapologetic malice. It may have not been a likable character, but after this stint, better roles came along, most notably the corrupt Dr. Fenster in Robert Redford's prison drama Brubaker (1980); and the evil sheriff in the thriller The Howling (1981). By the late '80s, Willingham was an in-demand character actor, and he scored in three hit films: a border patrol sergeant - a great straight man to Cheech Marin - in the ethnic comedy Born in East L.A.; his wonderfully avuncular performance as General Taylor, the military brass who was sympathetic to an unorthodox disc jockey in Saigon, played by Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam (both 1987); and his good 'ole boy villainy in the Rutger Hauer action flick Blind Fury (1988). His performances in these films proved that if nothing else, Willingham was a solid backup player who was adept at both comedy and drama. His best remembered role will no doubt be his six year run as the genial barkeep C.D. Parker opposite Chuck Norris in the popular adventure series Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-99). However, film reviewers raved over his tortured performance as a foul-mouthed, bigoted boat salesman who suffers a traffic downfall in the little seen, but searing indie drama The Corndog Man (1998); the role earned Willingham a nomination for Best Actor at the Independent Spirit Awards and it showed that this ably supporting performer had enough charisma and talent to hold his own in a lead role. In 2000, Willingham tried his hand at politics when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Democrat Max Dandlin in a congressional campaign in east Texas. After the experience, Willingham returned to acting filming Blind Horizon with Val Kilmer in 2003. The movie is to be released later this year. Willingham is survived by his wife, Patti Ross Willingham; a son, John Ross McGlohen; two daughters, Stari Willingham and Meghan McGlohen; and a grandson. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States May 14, 1987

Released in United States October 1997

Released in United States on Video January 21, 1988

Released in United States Summer July 24, 1987

Shown at Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival (10th Anniversary Screening) October 15-19, 1997.

Shown at Seattle Film Festival May 14, 1987.

Began shooting June 16, 1986.

Previewed in New York City July 17, 1987.

Spanish language version available

Released in United States on Video January 21, 1988

Released in United States May 14, 1987 (Shown at Seattle Film Festival May 14, 1987.)

Released in United States Summer July 24, 1987

Released in United States October 1997 (Shown at Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival (10th Anniversary Screening) October 15-19, 1997.)