"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, December 08, 2007

SNMR 4.5: "La Bamba"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "La Bamba" (1987, PG-13, 108 minutes), starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosana DeSoto, Danielle von Zerneck, Elizabeth Pena and Joe Pantoliano. The film was directed by Luis Valdez.


This is the biopic film tribute to the late Ritchie Valens (born Ricardo Steven Valenzuela), who died in a plane crash at age 17, on February 3, 1959. Also killed in the crash were Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and the pilot - 21 year old Roger Peterson. The film chronicles the eight months of Valens' life from humble beginnings in Pacoima, California to his death in an Iowa cornfield in 1959, minutes after the four passenger Beechcraft Bonanza took off.

I'll never forget the first time I saw this movie. It was the summer of 1987, just after it was released in the theater. I was working at The Salvation Army's Camp Wonderland. One night in early August, I borrowed another staff member's car to go to the Showcase Cinema in nearby Dedham, MA. I had wanted to see "RoboCop" that night but it had just been released and was sold out. So I settled for "La Bamba" instead. At that time I was not even aware of who Ritchie Valens was, much less that he had died in a plane crash at age 17. When the movie ended and the plane crashed, I cried. I was shocked and depressed after thoroughly enjoying the movie up until that point. I must admit that, watching this movie tonight, I got a bit teary-eyed during the end.

What's not to like, aside from the ending? Lou Diamond Phillips is fantastic in the lead role, in his big-screen debut. Esai Morales and Rosana DeSoto do admirable jobs as big brother Bob and mother Connie, respectively. What can I say about Joe Pantoliano as the sober Bob Keane, the talent scout that discovered the unknown Valenzuela? The script is excellently written and directed by Luis Valdez, who evidently has reverence for the subject. Los Lobos does a great job covering Valens' songs and providing the majority of music for this movie. There is a making of featurette in three parts on the disc which talks about Ritchie Valens, his music and his family. What I thought was interesting is that his family was present during the filming of the movie, so the on screen characters got to interact with the real family members that they were portraying. I think that interaction helped to inspire the actors to give top notch performances in all aspects.

Interesting side note: this film was released on July 24, 1987 and Ritchie's mother Connie died on October 18, 1987. It's almost like she hung on long enough to see her son immortalized in film before she was able to rest in peace. (Grave site at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California)

The plane crash event is said to have inspired singer Don McLean's popular 1971 ballad "American Pie," and immortalized February 3 as "The Day the Music Died." The event also inspired the Eddie Cochran song "Three Stars," which specifically mentions Holly, the Big Bopper and Valens.


Aside from the depressing ending, there is not a bad thing I can say about this movie. It's a good length and doesn't drag for any length of time.

***** out of *****



At 29 December, 2007 03:14, Blogger EE said...

One of my all-time favorite movies...
Now I'm going to be singing La Bamba all night:o


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home