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The Bad News Bears

The Bad News Bears – 1976
Michael Ritchie

Bill Lancaster

Walter Matthau
Tatum O’Neal
Vic Morrow



Review by John Chard

Buttermakers’s Bail Bond Backed Bears
Rewarding for both adults and children, this funny and astute movie revels in poking the ribs of Little League Baseball whilst casting a cautionary eye of the obsession some have with winning. An on form Walter Matthau stars as Morris Buttermaker, a now washed up ex minor league player who, prompted by a financial carrot, becomes manager of a multi-racial team of Little League misfits. It’s originally a rough road as Buttermaker is more concerned with drinking beer, while the kids themselves don’t know which end of the bat to hold. But things start to pick up when Morris enlists his talented daughter Manda (Tatum O’Neal) to pitch for them. Not only that but the town rebel, Kelly Leak (Jackie Earl Hayley), with points to prove, has also been prompted to join.

Directed by Michael Ritchie and written by Bill Lancaster (yes, Burt’s son), The Bad News Bears never sinks to being a preachy fable. It also delightfully doesn’t resort to type for its finale. Making this a very clever and aware film from a genre of film so often troubled by safe playing and a too frothy approach. It would spawn two so so sequels in the next two years, inspire an imitation, get a TV series make over and was remade in 2005 with Billy Bob Thornton taking on the role of Buttermaker. 7.5/10

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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