Biographies of the rich and famous are always in vogue; of the high, mighty and powerful too. It seems we just can’t get enough of those otherworldly creatures, who are among us in the flesh, but seem to move in socio-economic spheres apart from our own. Obviously, it serves a need; a fulfillment for that fanciful collective daydream we share and secretly long – that at any moment it could just as easily – and magically – happen to us. And no one does make-believe better than Hollywood, a city unlike any other in the world, promising so much, so fast and so completely to so many what in actually grants to so few. Like everything it does, Hollywood disingenuously makes the prospect of getting famous overnight seem plausible and, in some ways, the biopic helps to perpetuate this myth. All but discarded throughout the 1970’s, the biopic was to flourish anew in the 1980’s. Only now its’ tantalizing elixir drew inspiration from more unlikely candidates; in ‘the little brown man’ (so nicknamed in the prologue to Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi 1982), or the South African freedom fighter (Denzel Washington as Steve Biko in, again, Attenborough’s Cry Freedom 1987), or the Latino musical protégé longing to climb out of the slums of his youth (Lou Diamond Phillips in his star-making role of Ricardo Valensuela; better known to the rock n’ roll generation as Ritchie Valens, in Luis Valdez’ La Bamba 1987).
To this latter filmic reincarnation, director Luis Valdez introduced the essential and all too familiar fairytale quality; a Cinder-fella, who makes good on a promise to his mother, only to have the light of his musical genius snuffed out before its time. If audiences were left wondering if they had heard and seen it all before – actually, they had: in Steve Rash’s The Buddy Holly Story (1978); a superb, and arguably, superior biopic dedicated to another rock n’ roll icon. More than the ending of each picture runs parallel to the times; Valens and Holly concocted as a pair of restless dreamers destined to forever change the landscape of popular music; altering the white-bred misperception from previous generational biases toward ‘jungle music’. Both young men came up from small, seemingly unimportant, enclaves with little about their home lives to keep them happily out of the spotlight. Each desperately craved the distinction to be recognized for their contribution to the ever-evolving tapestry of American music.
The fabric of La Bamba, that is to say, its screenplay (also written by Valdez) is dedicated to the deification of this good Chicano boy, grown up dirt poor, with an elder brother who, however devoted, would also prove to be somewhat resentful of his younger sibling’s success. The virtues of the production are fairly obvious: Lou Diamond Phillips (who?). Indeed, Philips seemed to burst onto the screen fully formed as a star; instantly taken at face value and embraced as the embodiment of his alter ego (despite the fact, he and the real Ritchie Valens look nothing alike). La Bamba was produced with the express permission and participation of the Valenzuela family. Indeed, Ricardo’s real mother, his brother, Bob and scores of their extended relations appear in the movie as a token presence; their creative input fueling Valdez’s verve to create a truthful narrative from this seemingly clichéd rags to riches tale with a decidedly tragic finale.
There are really only two ways to successfully do a biopic. One is to find an actor who hauntingly resembles the real McCoy and then craft a performance around other strengths (and/or camouflaging the weaknesses). The other way, as is the case of La Bamba, is to discover an unknown with a magnetic personality, who can absorbed enough of the mannerisms in his character study to magically morph – nee eclipse – the memory of the person he is pretending to be. For Lou Diamond Phillips this transformation was relatively easy, thanks mostly to the quiet obliteration of the real Ritchie Valens’ from the popular consciousness of the mid to late 1980’s. At seventeen he was, undeniably, just a kid, the least experienced of the rising rock legends to tragically die in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959; the other two, of course being, Buddy Holly (age 22) and Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. – a.k.a., The Big Bopper (age 29). And Valens, unlike his cohorts, only had a handful of hits in his repertoire at the time of his death; albeit, each a chart-topping smash hit single. As shocking as it now seems, particularly from our present age, embracing retro nostalgia for practically everything, Valens’ reputation as a singer (even his contemporizing of the time-honored folk tune, La Bamba) had been allowed to quietly fade into distant memory by the time Valdez begin writing his visual tome to this teen rocker.
Lest we forget, the template had yet to be plumbed to the extent where it might have seemed like a foregone conclusion where virtually any picture based on a musical legend is guaranteed to make back its money. The back-catalog of successes to date basically included the aforementioned biopic on Buddy Holly, Michael Apted’s Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) and Karl Reisz’s Sweet Dreams (1985). Aside: we won’t lump Milos Forman’s Amadeus (1984) into this mix, for two obvious reasons: first, Mozart’s life and music is separated from this latter ilk by almost 200 years, and second, because Forman’s movie is not a biopic per say; but based on a fabulously inaccurate (if ingeniously concocted) play about two men (Wolfgang Mozart and Antonio Salieri) who, in life, never actually met; hence, Amadeus remains deftly produced/astutely directed fiction of the highest order, rather than a concerted effort to retell the real life story of its subject. But back to Valdez and Valens – and La Bamba. With an estimated budget of $6,500,000 (nearly five times the allotment afforded director Steve Rash for The Buddy Holly Story), La Bamba cannot help but excel in its vintage recreations of the fabulous fifties. The Buddy Holly Story somewhat deprived us of this essential ingredient. But it should be pointed out we are more than compensated in Gary Busey’s show-stopping performance in that movie.
Like this aforementioned biopic, La Bamba’s salvation is undeniably the actor cast in the lead, although in hindsight, Lou Diamond Philips doesn’t have as much of the heavy-lifting to do; his vocals dubbed by the band, Los Lobos (Busey did his own singing in The Buddy Holly Story). Diamond’s performance is buoyed by exquisite evocations from that eternally revived and fondly recalled timeline in America’s cultural evolution, when the sound of youth had yet to fully erode the ensconced button-down conservatism of the previous generation. Vince Cresciman’s production design and Sylvia Vega-Vasquez and Yvonne Cervantesall costuming glistens in softly focused pastels; brightly colored cardigans and poodle skirts with real crinoline and lace. It’s a fairly flashy affair, but especially after Ritchie manages to break out of his slum neighborhood and move his mother, Connie (Rosana De Soto) and occasionally belligerent/frequently inebriated brother, Bob (Esai Morales) into the atypically romanticized middle-class pastiche of suburbia; cinematographer, Adam Greenberg’s affinity for sundrenched powder blue and candy-apple red convertibles knowing no bounds. Point blank: La Bamba looks the part and satisfies the audience’s need to be magically teleported to another, simpler, and at least outwardly, more perfectly idealized time and place.
There are, to be sure, cracks in this plasticized paradise; not the least, Ritchie’s encounter with abject racial prejudice. His girlfriend’s father, Mr. Ludwig (Sam Anderson) thinks of him as a greasy Spic, or perhaps, just an oily rocker who also happens to be a greasy Spic. Whatever the case; the man’s a bigot. Like all fairly unenlightened from his generation, Mr. Ludwig is the movie’s token representative of that broader cultural malaise affecting the social/moral fabric of the nation at large; his wife (played with rolling-eyed mild disgust by Maggie Gwinn) and daughter, Donna (Danielle von Zerneck, as the wholesome ideal of every love-struck hot-blooded American male of a certain generation) are powerless to change his attitude or his viewpoint despite teary protestations. Today, it would be the tattooed, nose, nipple and tongue-pierced young lass who’d land the man and the rocker pursuing her would probably tell pops to go to hell before blowing a cloud of acrid smoke in his face from a gas-guzzling Harley…but I digress.
La Bamba actually began its lengthy gestation in 1973 when two KCET-TV employees, documentary filmmaker, Taylor Hackford and actor/singer, Daniel Valdez fermented the kernel of an idea to make a movie about musical acts from the 1940’s. Timing, as they used to say (and perhaps, still do), is everything. Valdez’s brother, Luis encouraged the pair to reconsider the 1950’s for their milieu; Daniel already having costarred in Zoot Suit; a minor Broadway hit about the previous decade’s musical charm. In their brainstorming sessions, Luis introduced the name Ritchie Valens as a possible subject; Daniel spending the next five years researching every aspect of Valens’ life with the initial plan to premiere a stage production first, and possibly, a movie later on. It didn’t work out that way. It usually never does.
But casting the part of Ritchie Valens proved anything except a hip-swiveling cakewalk; producer, Taylor Hackford and Luis Valdez seeing virtually hundreds of hopefuls in Los Angeles and New York. Lou Diamond Philips was among these, but an unlikely candidate; having tested for the part of Ritchie’s brother Bob first. Ironically, Esai Morales had also tested – but for the part of Ritchie. It was Hackford who, after pondering the tests, came to the conclusion that if the roles were reversed Valdez just might solve two of his major casting dilemmas in one fell swoop. In preparing for their respective roles, Morales and Philips were motivated by encouragement from the Valenzuela family. Ritchie’s aunt actually helped coax Philips’ performance, giving her gold seal of approval after observing the actor shoot the scene where he blows the lid off the Silhouette’s pompous lead singer, Rudy (Geoffrey Rivas) during his garage audition. Morales was, arguably, better blessed; allowed to draw his inspiration from the real thing; Bob Morales still very much alive and able to impart his inimitable air of over-confidence that his alter ego picked up, right down to the way the actor cocked his head back and off to the side.
La Bamba begins in earnest with a dream – or rather, a nightmare; two planes involved in a mid-air collision; their fiery debris raining down on a schoolyard full of unsuspecting children. Richard Steven Valenzuela awakens, in a cold, terrorized sweat; his mother, Connie prompting him to hurry and get dressed. The Valenzuelas are laborers on a local apricot orchard. Director Valdez setup of the communal atmosphere for these unfortunate migrants is rather idealized and mildly predicated on archetypes rather than people. Yet, here is a world as far off the mark of Richard’s dreams; oppressive and stifling in many ways. Still, Richard at least has his dream; one he hopes to share with Rosie (Elizabeth Peña); his virginal sweetheart. Alas, she prefers the company of his more dangerous brother, Bob; a boozin’, ballin’ biker who, despite serving a prison sentence, nevertheless harbors the proverbial heart of gold – at least, where Richard is concerned. Valdez sets up his family dynamic thus; Connie, doting on Richard, Richard doting on mom and Bob; Bob into himself, and not above taking what he wants, simply because he can. Although Connie is glad to have her eldest back in the fold, she is somehow unable to care for him in the same way. Richard and Bob had different fathers, you see; Bob’s presumably run off and Richard’s having drank himself to death at a local watering hole; now mere distant – and marginally deified – memories enshrined in all of their lives.
On night, while Richard is entertaining the local migrant children with his guitar, Rosie toddles off for some heavy petting with Bob. Alas, Bob uses women like Kleenex. He’s quick to launch and makes the most of his opportunity; only afterward, somewhat tender and comforting upon discovering he is Rosie’s first lover. Richard observes the pair returning from their flagrante delicto in the dead of night. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s happened. Wounded by Bob’s betrayal, a rift slowly develops between the brothers. Rosie becomes pregnant and Bob, rather cold-heartedly, informs her that this child is not his first: nor will he expect it to be his last. Rosie is despondent, even more so when Bob invites one of his hardcore biker friends and his wife for a pot-smoking party in their trailer. The couple feud daily. Connie instructs Richard to stay out of Bob and Rosie’s life. After all, he is the family’s shining hope for the future. And Richard has his guitar, a possession more prized than any other. After school, he auditions at the behest of a friend for a spot with the Silhouettes; a local band whose front man, Rudy, obviously harbors an undercurrent of disdain for this upstart who can play and sing a hell of a lot better than he can.
Rudy hires Richard, but relegates him to playing minor chords during their all-night garage parties. Connie is outraged, and decides to pull a favor from Howard (Noble Winningham); the owner of the honkytonk where Richard’s late father, Steve, spent too many long hours pissing away his health and their life’s savings. Although Richard is underage, Howard reluctantly agrees, at least under Connie’s coercion, to allow this kid his ‘big break’. With Bob accompanying on the drums, Richard performs Buddy Holly’s ‘Oh Boy!’ to a packed house. The audience’s immediate positive reaction prompts Connie to think even bigger; borrowing against their rent money to hire the American Legion Hall for a full-fledged concert. Bob doesn’t think much of the idea, laughing off Connie’s modest poster campaign. So, instead she puts Bob to work creating some snazzier hand-painted posters. Bob then gets his biker gang to plaster these advertisements all over town while Connie rides up and down the streets, broadcasting from a loudspeaker, the official debut of Richard Valenzuela and his ‘Flying Guitar’.
Word of mouth is enough to attract the attention of Bob Keane (Joe Pantoliano); president of Delphi Records. Too bad Richard’s sensational debut is all but ruined when Bob burst into the American Legion hall and begins a drunken brawl that effectively clears the hall and cuts their celebration short. It doesn’t matter. For Keane has heard enough of Richard to know he’s the real deal. This kid definitely needs to be put under contract. Keane works out of his basement, converted into a modest studio. Richard is initially unimpressed by the setup, but Keane gets Richard to lay down some tracks for what will eventually become his first smash hit ‘Come On, Let’s Go’. Bob the goes to see local DJ, Ted Quillan (Rick Dees), who is ecstatic about this new find.
In the meantime, Richard begins to explore a high school sweetheart’s crush with the new girl in town, Donna Ludwig; later to become the inspiration for his ballad, ‘Oh Donna’. Mr. Ludwig is hardly kosher about his white-bred princess dating a ‘high tone’ Hispanic. Instead, he does everything in his power to dissuade these two from continuing their romance. He even takes away Donna’s birthday present: a flashy red convertible. If things seem less than idyllic for this couple, their difficulties pale to those endured by Rosie; who frequently kicks Bob out of the house in a frustrated rage, or is forced to endure his higher-than-a-kite wrath in the middle of the night. At one point, Connie even threatens to call the police. So, Bob calls Connie out for her mishandling of his youth; for her lack of compassion towards him, particularly in the face of all she has done and continues to do for Richard. There is something to be said for this maternal nepotism; director, Valdez illustrating how love withheld is just as powerful an elixir as love openly granted – though, decidedly, with very different results.
Keane tries to get Richard to fly to San Francisco for an important PR junket. He also changes his name to Ritchie Valens; a minor disappointment to both Richard and Bob, who regard the alteration as something of a desecration of their late father’s memory. Nevertheless, Ritchie agrees to the change, provided he and Keane can drive to Frisco for the gig. Keane reluctantly acquiesces; Ritchie revealing the kernel of his aviophobia; the reoccurring nightmare actually based on events that happened when he was just a boy and that claimed the life of his best friend. Keane is empathetic to a degree. But from here on in, Bob grows steadily more bitterly resentful of his brother’s success. However, while performing his duties as a garbage man on the back lot of Columbia’s old Gower Street Studios, Bob discovers discarded animation cells in the ash cans. These spark a creative desire in him to take up drawing; his proclivity and innate talent for art leading him to enter a contest; $500 in prizes, including an easel and supplies to further the pursuit of his newfound passion. While Ritchie is supportive (after all, it’s an improvement over Bob’s old habits), neither Rosie nor Connie can see the validity or future in it; once again, leaving Bob feeling like the ostracized outcast.
Ritchie writes the ballad, ‘Oh, Donna’ for his girlfriend who, by now, is a virtual shut-in, thanks to Mr. Ludwig’s preventative measures. Bob elects to take his brother to Tijuana to get ‘blewed, screwed and tattooed’. Actually, he is only successful in this latter endeavor, Ritchie becoming more fascinated by the band playing the folk song, ‘La Bamba’ inside the brothel, than in any of the young harlots meant to occupy his time. The next morning, Ritchie awakens ‘tattooed’ in the hut of an old spiritual hermit. The hermit gives Ritchie a homemade talisman, supposedly imbued with protective powers.
Upon returning home, Bob learns from Connie that Rosie went into labor and gave birth. Keane tells Ritchie he must fly to his next big engagements; American Bandstand in Philadelphia, and, a big New York stage revue featuring Eddie Cochran (Brian Setzer) and Jackie Wilson (Howard Huntsberry). In midflight, a terrified Ritchie informs Keane of his reoccurring nightmare, explaining he always believed he would die in a plane crash. Momentary turbulence doesn’t exactly bolster Ritchie’s confidence. Nevertheless, he does as his agent commands; Keane rewarding the family with a brand new house, plus a powder blue convertible for Ritchie. He wastes no time showing it off to Donna. While Ritchie uses the Bandstand debut to sell ‘Oh, Donna’ to his fans; his live performance of ‘La Bamba’ – a folk tune, Keane had been initially reluctant to release (for fear of offending cultural mores) – literally brings down the house at New York’s Apollo; becoming Ritchie’s third triumphant hit single. Returning to California just before Christmas, his name a household word across the fruited plains, the family celebrates this pending season with a houseful of friends, gifts and joy - almost. Unable to embrace the moment simply for what it is; the pinnacle of Ritchie’s success, Bob instead picks a fight; accidentally tearing off Ritchie’s talisman; director, Valdez’s portentous, but rather heavy-handed foreshadowing.
Keane books Ritchie on the ill-fated Winter Dance Party road tour that includes Buddy Holly (Marshall Crenshaw) and The Big Bopper (Stephen Lee). In Clear Lake, Iowa their bus experiences mechanical difficulties; the heating system completely shot. Already suffering the effects of the flu, Ritchie telephones Keane first, to complain about the horrible conditions; then, a second call to Bob back in California. The two briefly share a moment of reconciliation; Ritchie encouraging Bob to fly out to Chicago so they can finish the tour together. Bob is touched by the offer and agrees. Alas, this proves to be Ritchie’s farewell address to his family; the plane Buddy Holly has chartered to take them on the next length of their journey nose-diving in a terrible snowstorm, killing all on board.
Like The Buddy Holly Story, La Bamba spares us the drawn out machinations of a frantic May Day, intercut with inserts of fearful faces knowing they are about to die. Instead, we get the doomed plane lifting off the runway, the sound of its engines gradually drowned out by the swirling midnight winds and snow storm. Unlike The Buddy Holly Story, director Luis Valdez feels the need to show us the aftermath from this loss. We cut to sunny California; Bob listening to the car radio while performing rudimentary repairs when DJ Ted Quillin makes the startling announcement that Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens are gone. We cut to reaction shots of Rosie and Keane, also a brief insert of Donna being told of Ritchie’s death by her girlfriend. Unable to reach Connie in time to break the news in person, all Bob can do now is cradle their mother in his arms; her shrieks of sorrow marked by a brief glimpse of Ritchie’s funeral cortege approaching San Fernando Mission Cemetery; and then, the penultimate cry of anguish from Bob, intercut with a moment from the beginning of the movie as the two brothers race each other to the top of a hill; the sequence set to Santo and Johnny’s 1959 hit, Sleepwalk.
It’s a flawed finale; mostly because director, Luis Valdez has gone for the saccharine sendoff; gilding the lily of this already bittersweet moment with just a tad too much cliché. The ending of La Bamba doesn’t live on in our memory as anything better than the movie’s epitaph. Mercifully, it’s a rare misfire for Valdez, who otherwise manages to cram an entire lifetime and career into an hour and forty-eight minutes that never seems frenetic or rushed. Valdez’s finest moment is, arguably, ‘Come On, Let’s Go’; combining humor and frustration in a montage to magnificently illustrate the blood, sweat and tears an artist must shed in order to transform a rock n’ roll dream into reality.
To be sure, there are other expertly handled moments scattered throughout La Bamba; Lou Diamond’s Philip’s lip sync to the title track; the compendium of iconic 50’s chart-topping pop tunes effortlessly sandwiched in between deftly written exposition. Although we only get snippets, the illusion of listening to a full-fledged concert is always maintained. Better still is the incredible ‘brotherly’ chemistry sustained between Esai Morales and Lou Diamond Phillips. All of these attributes conspire to gift us with a cinematic snapshot of the way things were, or perhaps, the way Valdez might have willed them to have been; the film fudging reality for art’s sake; but never without complete sincerity to preserve the honor, memory and dignity of the late Ritchie Valens. We must also tip our hats to the exquisite Rosanna DeSoto; a very fierce, though easily hurt and as emotionally scarred mother tigress.
La Bamba is far more an ensemble piece than a star vehicle for Lou Diamond Philips; although, in hindsight, it served this latter purpose too; to launch his movie career. But Valdez is not adverse in departing from our central theme, or even the star of our show. He gives us the Valenzuela clan; flawed, but in full flourish. Having the living counterparts as background players lends another layer of authenticity; even if the audience is unaware the real Bob Morales, Connie and Rosie are more than ever-present; the movie richly patterned under their watchful scrutiny. La Bamba had to live up to their expectations long before it could sustain anyone else’s approval and be judged on its own merits. As such, La Bamba is occasionally a visceral experience. Undeniably, part of its primeval allure is predicated on the audience knowing the outcome of the story will not be pleasant.
And yet, for all its virtues, La Bamba falls short of the much less expensive/less flashier, The Buddy Holly Story; essentially, telling the same rags to riches yarn. Part of the problem herein is Ritchie Valens himself; by all accounts a clean-cut good kid, whose life’s struggles were relatively small by comparison, and, who might have given the world of rock n’ rock its reckoning, if only he hadn’t died prematurely. But at seventeen, there is a sort of precipitous quality to Valens’ life; like reading one of the four biographical accounts on Justin Bieber; memoirs penned before Bieber had even reached the age of majority. To some extent, this age discrepancy, between the real Ritchie Valens (dead at the age of 17) and Lou Diamond Phillips (age 25), helps to compensate and counteract the handicap of youth. While Phillips exudes a prepubescent quality in his early scenes (arguably, not even old enough to shave), he is decidedly mature enough to come off as fairly sexy (in a vintage 50’s way) later in the film, particularly when the toe-hold of fame has already begun to mature him beyond his years.
We should also point to Esai Morales performance as the older brother; a godsend. It is the flashier part; Morales taking what could so easily have become the ‘Ritchie-not’ of the piece and transforming it into a characterization teeming with the firebrand of a wounded child who is forced to grapple with his limited comprehension of manhood; only pushing around the world when it becomes too painful and obviously the world wants no part of him. And Morales gives us more than just a sulking brute or comic fop; although there are elements of both the jester and thug intermingling throughout his performance. We recall, as example, the moment inside the honkytonk as Morales’ Bob nervously counts out the beats on the drums, discovering his own rhythm as he accompanies Ritchie in his rousing rendition of ‘Oh Boy!’; vocalizing his growing confidence by belting out a mere echo of the chorus behind his spotlighted sibling. Here, Morales gives us a complete look of wonderment, amusement and pride as though he’s also suddenly recognized Bob’s invaluable contributions to this minor moment in the film. There is awareness in Morales’ performance; an intuitive sixth sense, perhaps, in no small way due to his absorption of the real Bob Morales’ demeanor, done as his prelim study.
In the final analysis, La Bamba holds our interests because the performances in it are better than good; the sheer joy of seeing actors embody their parts with relish able to eclipse whatever shortcomings in the narrative surface along the way. Twilight Time’s release of La Bamba via Sony Home Entertainment gives us a fairly impressive hi-def transfer. I will just go on record herein with a snap assessment; that Sony, under Grover Crisp’s archival management, remains, bar none, the benchmark by which all other studios ought to set their bar and measure their own levels of success. It’s difficult to think of a Sony hi-def Blu-ray that hasn’t lived up to my expectations. Certainly, none released via Twilight Time’s third party distribution deal so far.
Herein, we get another pluperfect reason to celebrate yet another above par catalog release. Adam Greenberg’s cinematography is lovingly recreated herein; his affinity for sun-saturated California vistas, married to lavish recreations of vintage 50’s kitsch, popping in hi-def with a rich palette of colors, predominantly favoring greens, blues and reds. Fine detail seems just a tad wanting, however; even in close-up. While the opening credits are razor-sharp, there is a residual softness in the end titles. I’m also not entirely sure about the ever-so-slightly blown out contrast levels for scenes shot outdoors; although I must admit, they serve the story incredibly well. Bottom line: there’s really nothing to complain about. The image is free of age-related anomalies or digitally created ones for that matter. Film grain looks natural enough, if slightly thicker than I expected. The newly created 5.1 DTS soundtrack is occasionally lacking in bass. Dialogue always sounds canned and infrequently, rather thin. But the songs have a marvelously resonance.
There are two independent audio commentaries available on this release; holdovers from the old Columbia/TriStar DVD from 2001. I have to say, I much prefer the one with Taylor Hackford and Daniel Valdez, who seem, on the whole, more animated and better prepared in recollecting the history behind the making of this movie. The other track has director, Luis Valdez, Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales; but they’re generally more amused by re-watching the movie; teasing one another about the aspects of each other’s work they believe has dated since. Alas, we lose the two music videos from the DVD release; no Los Lobos ‘La Bamba’ or Howard Huntsberry’s ‘Lonely Teardrops’. We do get the original theatrical trailer, plus TT’s usual commitment to an isolated score. Finally, there are Julie Kirgo’s fabulous liner notes to recommend; always a joy to peruse and absorb. Bottom line: La Bamba is a good film with a great cast and lots of heart. This Blu-ray is as perfect as we’re likely to see. Recommended!
FILM RATING (out of 5 – 5 being the best)