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La Bamba presented by TCM

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  • Trailer 1

Movie Info & Cast


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.


  • Lou Diamond Phillips
  • Esai Morales
  • Rosanna DeSoto
  • Elizabeth Peña
  • Danielle von Zerneck
  • Joe Pantoliano
  • Rick Dees
  • Marshall Crenshaw
  • Brian Setzer
  • Howard Huntsberry

Atom User Reviews

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Verified Review

It was great seeing this on the big screen again. The older I get, the more I realize how young Ritchie really was when he became a star and then tragically died. The film captures the Southern California Latino feel.

Jan A
Verified Review

Saw it on video back in the day. Great to see it on the big screen. Love the re-releases.

Rick R



This is a good small movie, sweet and sentimental, about a kid who never really got a chance to show his stuff. The best things in it are the most unexpected things: the portraits of everyday life, of a loving mother, of a brother who loves and resents him, of a kid growing up and tasting fame and leaving everyone standing around at his funeral shocked that his life ended just as it seemed to be beginning.

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

As played by the smooth-faced, cheerful Lou Diamond Phillips, there seems to be something almost supernatural about the young man of La Bamba. He's a chosen one, and his rise to the top will be swift and smooth. If only he could shake those nightmares about a crashing plane . . . . [24 July 1987, p.A]

Metacritic review by Dave Kehr
Dave Kehr
Chicago Tribune

La Bamba may in many ways be a catalogue of cliches, but they are cliches that Valens was able to live for his people for the first time, and they are cliches that Luis Valdez has been able to film for his people (for all people) for the first time.

Metacritic review by Jay Scott
Jay Scott
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)