Guide to Baseball Films: The 1970s
- The Bad News Bears. (1976) Dir. Michael Ritchie. A broken-down minor-league pitcher is given charge of an impossibly bad youth-league team, and after a few false starts turns them into the terrors of their league; but the Bears pay for their success with their innocence.
This picture broke ground in the mid-1970s by showing pre-teens who use realistic pre-teen bad language and toilet humor. It has had a lasting influence as the archetypal team-of-misfits-makes-good movie. Its formula has been endlessly imitated, not just in baseball films (such as its own series of sequels) but in other sports pictures like the Mighty Ducks movies and the football movie Little Giants. Remade disappointingly in 2005.
- The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training. (1977) Dir. Michael Pressman. The Bears return to play a big game in the Astrodome.
Arbitrary writing, lack of dramatic tension, and the absence of Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal bury this sequel's chances early on.
- The Bad News Bears Go to Japan. (1978) Dir. John Berry. The Bears go on an overseas tour at the behest of a slimy agent.
Tony Curtis mugs manfully, but boy does this picture stink.
- Bang the Drum Slowly. (1973) Dir. John Hancock. A pitcher watches and narrates as his room-mate and battery-mate succumbs to Hodgkin's Disease.
Mark Harris's screenplay for this feature film of his novel is excellent, downplaying Henry Wiggen's loquaciousness and updating the story to the 1970s while losing none of its essential elements. Memorable performances by Michael Moriarty and Robert De Niro lead a fine cast. Remake of the 1956 television play.
- The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings. (1976). Dir. John Badham. A group of Negro Leaguers form their own barnstorming team.
Fine performances by Billie Dee Williams and James Earl Jones highlight this adaptation of William Brashler's novel. The filmmakers could not resist making the story comic by adding Richard Pryor in a clownish turn, and melodramatic by making it end with a Big Game. But it is well worth seeing.