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''The Bad News Bears'' is a 1976 American
sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectators. Sports can, throu ...
comedy film A comedy film is a category of film in which the main emphasis is on humor. These films are designed to make the audience laugh through amusement and most often work by exaggerating characteristics for humorous effect. Films in this style traditi ...
directed by Michael Ritchie and written by
Bill Lancaster William Henry Lancaster (November 17, 1947 – January 4, 1997) was an American screenwriter and actor. Early life He was born November 17, 1947, in Los Angeles, California, the son of Burt Lancaster (1913–1994) and Norma Anderson (1917–1988) ...
. It stars
Walter Matthau Walter Matthau (; born Walter John Matthow; October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) was an American actor. He is best remembered for his film roles in ''A Face in the Crowd'' (1957), ''King Creole'' (1958), and opposite Jack Lemmon, playing ''The Odd ...
as an alcoholic ex-baseball pitcher who becomes a coach for a youth
baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hi ...

baseball
team known as the Bears. Alongside Matthau, the film's cast includes
Tatum O'Neal Tatum Beatrice O'Neal (born November 5, 1963) is an American actress and author. She is the youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Award, which she won in 1974 at age 10 for her performance as Addie Loggins in ''Paper Moon'' (1973) oppo ...
, Chris Barnes,
Vic Morrow Victor Morrow (born Victor Morozoff; February 14, 1929 – July 23, 1982) was an American actor and director whose credits include a starring role in the 1960s ABC television series ''Combat!'', prominent roles in a handful of other televisio ...
,
Jackie Earle Haley Jack Earle Haley (born July 14, 1961) is an American actor. His earliest roles included Moocher in ''Breaking Away'' (1979) and Kelly Leak in ''The Bad News Bears'' (1976), ''The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training'' (1977) and ''The Bad News Bear ...
,
Joyce Van Patten Joyce Benignia Van Patten (born March 9, 1934) is an American actress. Personal life Van Patten was born in New York City to Josephine Rose (née Acerno), a magazine advertising executive, and Richard Byron Van Patten, an interior decorator. He ...
, and Quinn Smith. Its score, composed by
Jerry Fielding Jerry Fielding (born Joshua Itzhak Feldman; June 17, 1922 – February 17, 1980)Redman, Nick"Fielding, Jerry" Jackson, Kenneth T.; Markoe, Karen E.; Markoe, Arnold (1995). ''Dictionary of American Biography; Supplement 10: 1976–1980''. New Y ...
, adapts the principal themes of Bizet's opera ''Carmen''. Released by Paramount Pictures, ''The Bad News Bears'' received generally positive reviews. It was followed by two sequels, ''The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training'' in 1977 and ''The Bad News Bears Go to Japan'' in 1978, a short-lived 1979–80 CBS The Bad News Bears (TV series), television series, and a 2005 Bad News Bears, remake.


Plot

Morris Buttermaker, an Alcoholism, alcoholic and former minor-league
baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hi ...

baseball
pitcher, is recruited to coach "the Bears," a Southern California Youth Baseball League team of misfit players formed as a compromise to a lawsuit brought against the league for excluding such players from other teams. Shunned by the more competitive teams (and competitive parents), the Bears are the outsiders. Buttermaker wikt:forfeit, forfeits the opening game after the team allows 26 runs without recording an out. To improve the team, Buttermaker recruits two unlikely prospects: sharp-tongued Amanda Whurlitzer, a skilled pitcher (trained by Buttermaker when she was younger) who is the 11-year-old daughter of one of Buttermaker's ex-girlfriends; and, the local cigarette-smoking, loan-sharking, Harley-Davidson-riding troublemaker, Kelly Leak, who also happens to be a good athlete, but has been excluded in the past by league officials. With Amanda and Kelly on board, the team starts gaining more confidence, and the Bears start winning games. Eventually, the Bears make it to the championship game opposite the top-notch Yankees, who are coached by aggressive, competitive Roy Bullock. As the game progresses, tensions rise as Buttermaker and Turner engage in ruthless behavior toward each other and the players in order to win the game. When Bullock strikes his son, the pitcher, for not following an order, Buttermaker realizes he, too, has placed too much emphasis on winning, and puts in his benchwarmers to allow everyone to play. Despite Buttermaker's move, the Bears lose the game. Buttermaker gives the team beer which they spray on each other with a field celebration as if they had won.


Cast


Adults

*
Walter Matthau Walter Matthau (; born Walter John Matthow; October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) was an American actor. He is best remembered for his film roles in ''A Face in the Crowd'' (1957), ''King Creole'' (1958), and opposite Jack Lemmon, playing ''The Odd ...
as Morris Buttermaker, coach of the Bears: A drunken, loud, ex-professional baseball pitcher and part-time pool cleaner, who drives a rundown blue Cadillac convertible *
Vic Morrow Victor Morrow (born Victor Morozoff; February 14, 1929 – July 23, 1982) was an American actor and director whose credits include a starring role in the 1960s ABC television series ''Combat!'', prominent roles in a handful of other televisio ...
as Roy Turner, coach of the Yankees who is competitive and aggressive *
Joyce Van Patten Joyce Benignia Van Patten (born March 9, 1934) is an American actress. Personal life Van Patten was born in New York City to Josephine Rose (née Acerno), a magazine advertising executive, and Richard Byron Van Patten, an interior decorator. He ...
as Cleveland, league manager who favors Roy and the Yankees *Ben Piazza as Bob Whitewood, city councilman and lawyer who sued the league to allow the Bears (in particular, his son) to play and who convinces (and pays) Buttermaker to coach the team *George Wyner as unnamed White Sox coach who is forced to forfeit against the Bears due to lack of eligible players


Kids

*
Tatum O'Neal Tatum Beatrice O'Neal (born November 5, 1963) is an American actress and author. She is the youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Award, which she won in 1974 at age 10 for her performance as Addie Loggins in ''Paper Moon'' (1973) oppo ...
as Amanda Whurlitzer, the 11-year-old pitcher who feels insecure about her tomboy image. She is recruited by Buttermaker to help the team start winning. She is no-nonsense and a great pitcher who was taught by Buttermaker when she was young. The boys grow to be very protective of her, picking a fight with their rivals during a game when Amanda is kicked in the chest. Her mother is Buttermaker's ex-girlfriend and she looks to him as a father figure. Amanda and Tanner butt heads a lot, but respect each other. She also has a secret crush on Kelly. * Chris Barnes as Tanner Boyle, the short-tempered shortstop with a Napoleon complex; after suffering a horrible loss on their first game, he picks a fight with the entire seventh grade from his school (and loses). He tends to curse more than the others, and initially insults and bullies Timmy before realizing he's treating Timmy no better than the kids from their rival team and becomes protective of him, leading to an unlikely friendship between them. He is also close friends with Ahmad. *
Jackie Earle Haley Jack Earle Haley (born July 14, 1961) is an American actor. His earliest roles included Moocher in ''Breaking Away'' (1979) and Kelly Leak in ''The Bad News Bears'' (1976), ''The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training'' (1977) and ''The Bad News Bear ...
as Kelly Leak, the local troublemaker who smokes and rides a mini Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Kelly is also the best athlete in the neighborhood. At first, he doesn't want to join when Amanda attempts to recruit him, but he changes his mind when Coach Turner threatens him. He alternates between left- and center-field and has a crush on Amanda. After joining the team, he forms close friendships with Tanner, Ahmad and Ogilvie. *Erin Blunt as Ahmad Abdul-Rahim, a black Muslim boy who plays in the outfield, is liked by everyone on the team and adores Hank Aaron; Ahmad strips off his uniform in shame after committing several errors in the Bears' first game, but is convinced to return to the team by Buttermaker and is used for bunts in games due to his speed. He is shown to be close friends with Tanner. *Gary Lee Cavagnaro as Mike Engelberg, an overweight boy who plays catcher; a great hitter, he frequently teases Tanner about his size. He breaks Buttermaker's windshield with a baseball at the first practice. He has a deep rivalry with Yankee pitcher Joey causing them to throw insults at each other. *Alfred Lutter, Alfred W. Lutter as Alfred Ogilvie, a bookworm who memorizes baseball statistics. He's mostly a bench-warmer who assists the coach with defensive strategy. A backup outfielder/first baseman, but reluctant to play because he feels he's one of the lesser-skilled players on the team. *David Stambaugh as Toby Whitewood, an unassuming boy who plays first base. He knows about the other players' personalities, is intelligent and well-spoken, and at times speaks on behalf of the team. He is the son of councilman Bob Whitewood, who secretly paid Buttermaker to coach the team. *Quinn Smith as Timmy Lupus, initially described by Tanner as a "booger-eating spaz;" plays right-field and is considered to be the worst player on the team — if not the entire league — but he surprises everyone in the final game by making a key play to keep the Bears in the game. He is the most quiet and shy player, but shows the odd ability to properly prepare a martini for Coach Buttermaker while the team was assisting the coach with pool cleaning. *Jaime Escobedo as Jose Aguilar, Miguel's older brother who plays second base; doesn't speak English. *George Gonzales as Miguel Aguilar, Jose's younger brother; mostly plays right-field. He does not speak English. He is so short that the strike zone is practically non-existent. *David Pollock (actor), David Pollock as Rudi Stein, a nervous relief pitcher with glasses who is a terrible hitter; at times he is asked by Coach Buttermaker to purposely get hit by pitches in order to get on base. Also a backup outfielder. *Brett Marx as Jimmy Feldman, a fairly quiet third baseman with curly blond hair. *Scott Firestone as Regi Tower, a fairly quiet, red-headed third baseman whose dad vocally attends practices and games. Also plays first base. *Brandon Cruz as Joey Turner, the star pitcher for the Yankees. Coach Roy Turner's son. He has a rivalry with Engleberg and regularly bullies Tanner and Timmy. Allows Engleberg an inside-the-park home run, then quits the team after Roy slaps him in anger for almost beanball, beaning the Bears' catcher.


Production

''The Bad News Bears'' was filmed in and around Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles, primarily in the San Fernando Valley. The field where they played is in Mason Park on Mason Avenue in Chatsworth, Los Angeles, Chatsworth. In the film, the Bears were Sponsor (commercial), sponsored by an actual company, Chico's Bail Bonds. One scene was filmed in the council chamber at Los Angeles City Hall. Matthau was paid $750,000 plus over 10% of the theatrical rentals. Tatum O'Neal was paid $350,000 plus a percentage of the profits. These were later estimated to be $1.9 million.


Reception

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 97% based on reviews from 30 critics and an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "''The Bad News Bears'' is rude, profane, and cynical, but shot through with honest, unforced humor, and held together by a deft, understated performance from Walter Matthau." In his 1976 review, critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four and called it "an unblinking, scathing look at competition in American society". Gene Siskel awarded two-and-a-half stars out of four, calling the film's characters "more types than people" and the kids' foul-mouth dialogue "overdone," though he found O'Neal's performance "genuinely affecting." ''Variety (magazine), Variety'' called it "the funniest adult-child comedy film since 'Paper Moon (film), Paper Moon'," and lauded the "excellent" script. Kevin Thomas (film critic), Kevin Thomas of the ''Los Angeles Times'' declared it "the best American screen comedy of the year to date," adding, "Bright, pugnacious and utterly realistic as most children seem to be today, these kids are drawn with much accuracy and are played beautifully." Vincent Canby of ''The New York Times'' found the film only "occasionally funny" but praised screenwriter Bill Lancaster for "the talent and discipline to tell the story of 'The Bad News Bears' almost completely in terms of what happens on the baseball diamond or in the dugout." Gary Arnold of ''The Washington Post'' praised it as "a lively, spontaneously funny entertainment" that "could rally a large parallel audience seeking less innocuous and stereotyped pictures with and about children." Tom Milne of ''The Monthly Film Bulletin'' called it "miraculously funny and entirely delightful."


Awards

Walter Matthau was nominated for a BAFTA award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy. The screenplay by
Bill Lancaster William Henry Lancaster (November 17, 1947 – January 4, 1997) was an American screenwriter and actor. Early life He was born November 17, 1947, in Los Angeles, California, the son of Burt Lancaster (1913–1994) and Norma Anderson (1917–1988) ...
, son of actor Burt Lancaster, was winner of a Writers Guild of America award. ''Saturday Night Live'' did a parody of the film with Matthau as the guest host called ''The Bad News Bees'' with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and the rest in their recurring bee costumes for what would be their final time. This subtly referenced masturbation which was alluded to as "buzzing-off". American Film Institute * AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs—nominated * AFI's 10 Top 10—nominated sports film * AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers—nominated


See also

* The Bad News Bears (TV series), ''The Bad News Bears'' (TV series)


References


External links

* * * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Bad News Bears Bad News Bears (franchise) 1970s sports comedy films 1976 films American baseball films American sports comedy films American films American coming-of-age comedy films English-language films Fictional sports teams Films adapted into television shows Films directed by Michael Ritchie Films scored by Jerry Fielding Films set in the San Fernando Valley Films set in Los Angeles Films shot in Los Angeles Paramount Pictures films Spanish-language films 1976 comedy films