The Bad News Bears (1976) Movie Poster

Trivia for The Bad News Bears (1976)

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  • Tanner uses the word crud (or cruddy) 11 times during the course of the film.
  • One of the actresses who tried out for the role of Amanda was Sarah Jessica Parker.
  • Throughout the film, Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is constantly drinking beer, yet he is seldom seen drinking the same brand. Buttermaker is seen at various times in the film drinking Budweiser, Miller High Life, Schlitz "Kingers," Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lucky Lager, and Coors.
  • The Bears were the only team in the league whose nickname and colors were not borrowed from a major league baseball team. This helped reinforce their status as misfits and underdogs.
  • Bill Lancaster's screenplay was based on his experiences with his father, Burt Lancaster. Buttermaker was based on Burt, who was known for his grumpiness and the character of Amanda was based on himself. Burt Lancaster would later be cast as an aged version of early 20th Century ballplayer, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham in Field of Dreams (1989).
  • 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).
  • Kristy McNichol was originally offered the role of Amanda Whurlitzer. After successfully auditioning, the producers told her when they would begin filming, and to start preparing, but McNichol says over one weekend they changed their minds, and she got the disappointing call they were giving the role to Tatum O'Neal. The pair later of actresses later co-starred together in Little Darlings (1980).
  • Jodie Foster was cast at one point as Amanda Whurlitzer but dropped out in order to play Iris in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976).
  • The film's poster art was drawn by Jack Davis, one of the founding illustrators for MAD magazine.
  • In the film, neither of the Aguilar brothers could speak any English. In reality, according to an interview in a Sports Illustrated "Where Are They Now" issue, Jaime Escobedo (Jose) and George Gonzales (Miguel) were in fact fluent in English, and didn't know how to speak in Spanish. They had to learn their entire dialogue strictly in Spanish before filming began.
  • Featured an unusual crossover of product placement for Denny's, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's. All three are family oriented restaurants serving convenience foods, and largely in competition with each other.
  • Aside from the two sequels and one remake, the movie was also adapted as a half hour TV sitcom in 1979-1980, The Bad News Bears (1979). The television series ran for twenty-six episodes on CBS, with Jack Warden starring in the role of Morris Buttermaker and Corey Feldman as Regi Tower.
  • The daily newspaper comic strip Tank McNamara ran a story line loosely based and inspired by the movie. In the story line a girl named Janet wins an injunction to pitch in an all boys Little League for a team called The Bears. Janet and the team's coach bore slight resemblance to Tatum O'Neal and Walter Matthau.
  • The Coach is shown to purchase his team's uniforms at "Willis' Sporting Goods" in Thousand Oaks, CA. This store (now closed) was owned and operated by Howard (Howie) Willis, who is now retired and living in Lake Oswego, OR. [February 2015]
  • The baseball field is Mason Park in Chatsworth, California.
  • Reportedly, star Walter Matthau was paid US $750,000 while Tatum O'Neal was paid US $350,000 and eight percent of net profits.
  • Walter Matthau's was the third choice to play Morris Buttermaker. Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty were both earlier offered the part but both turned it down due to involvements with other film projects.
  • Some of Amanda's pitching scenes were made with a wigged male double being filmed from behind the back.
  • Walter Matthau's real life son Charles Matthau appeared in the film as an opposing team player for the Athletics little league baseball team.
  • The filmmakers used handheld cameras in many of the baseball scenes to give the film a documentary feel.
  • Actor Jackie Earle Haley played Kelly Leak in all three original Bad News Bears movies: The Bad News Bears (1976), The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977), and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978).
  • Has come under fire lately for being politically incorrect while being aimed at children. This is because the movie's characters use the "n" word to refer to African Americans, the "s" word to refer to Hispanic people; the characters make nasty comments about Jews, women and gay people.
  • Brandon Cruz, who plays the bully Joey Turner in this movie, was also the star of the TV show The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1969).
  • Jackie Earle Haley would have a big comeback in the 2000s after a thirteen-year hiatus. He played many roles, including a child molester in Little Children (2006) and turned in an impressive performance as Rorschach in Watchmen (2009). He also played a prominent role as Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) reboot, and was in two other reboots, Dark Shadows (2012) and RoboCop (2014).
  • Writer-actor-director Quentin Tarantino has said this is one of his favorite movies.
  • Vic Morrow, who played Coach Roy Turner of the Yankees, is actually Jennifer Jason Leigh's dad. He died on 23rd July 1982 in a tragic special effects related accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).
  • Tatum O'Neal's character, Amanda Whurlitzer, is similar to her role in Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon (1973). In both movies she plays a tough tomboy who has a verbally abusive love/hate relationship with a father figure, Walter Matthau in this film and her real-life father and costar Ryan O'Neal in Paper Moon (1973).
  • First of three movies that actor Walter Matthau made with director Michael Ritchie. The films include The Survivors (1983), The Couch Trip (1988) and The Bad News Bears (1976).
  • The make and model of Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)'s car was a 1964 Cadillac Deville Convertible.
  • The make and model of Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley)'s motorcycle was a 1975 Harley-Davidson Z90. Notably small for a Harley-Davidson, this model was made during Harley-Davidson's brief partnership with the motorcycle division of Italian airplane manufacturer Aermacchi and was made to compete with similar Japanese motorcycles.
  • The movie was "a major surprise as one of 1976's top-grossing films," according to an American DVD jacket.
  • Actor Vic Morrow, who played Roy Turner, received an 'also starring' credit.
  • Joke nick-name variations given to Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) in the film include "Butterworth" and "Boilermaker".
  • This film was made and first released in 1976, just under three decades (or twenty-nine years) prior to its remake, Bad News Bears (2005), which starred Billy Bob Thornton in the Walter Matthau role. The remake dropped the original title's definite article, "the", from its name.
  • The movie spawned two sequels which were released in consecutive years after this film's 1976 release. The sequels were The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) and then The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978).
  • The ball field location was part of a larger recreation park and had no car lot directly beside it. Loose dirt was laid down, and a temporary cement ramp was installed at the curb to create the look of a parking lot.
  • Buttermaker ribs Amanda, asking her if she thinks she's Catfish Hunter. In Matthau's film, Grumpier Old Men (1995) Catfish Hunter was the name of the mythic fish that all the old anglers hoped to catch.
  • Buttermaker's comment to Amanda about thinking she was Catfish Hunter, with all of her expensive demands before agreeing to play with the Bears, was referencing Hunter's recently becoming the highest paid baseball player in the league.
  • The second time Vic Morrow and Walter Matthau starred together in a film. The other was King Creole 1958 starring Elvis Presley.
  • Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
  • Buttermaker is referred to as boilermaker by Tatum O'Neal's character and in the opening scene he is seen drinking a boilermaker.
  • Tatum O'Neal trained with a professional sports trainer for several weeks before shooting so she could get her pitch "pitch perfect" so to speak. Although some of the pitches in the movie were done by stunt doubles; O'Neal did the bulk of them on her own. (Rare for a movie like this).
  • One of the only three movies written by Bill Lancaster ( son of Burt Lancaster ), the other two being The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) and The Thing (1982).
  • Although Buttermaker's first name is credited as Morris, he's never actually called "Morris" as everyone just calls him "Buttermaker". However in the spin off television series starring Jack Warden, Buttermaker is often called "Morris".


  • In an alternate ending, Kelly is safe at home instead of out. Test audiences preferred the ending with him out, as it would've been too much of a happy ending for the underdog Bears.
  • The final score of the championship game is 7-6, the last two digits of the year the film was released (1976).
  • In the scene where Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O'Neal) tries to set up future plans with Buttermaker, herself and her Mom, Buttermaker angrily rebukes her, sending her away crying. Some might think it's implied that Buttermaker is her father, otherwise the scene wouldn't be so emotionally charged. However, the only thing that is definitely implied is that Buttermaker and Amanda's mom dated. He could be her father, but it seems unlikely.
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