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The Bad News Bears

From Academic Kids

A remake of the movie, directed by Richard Linklater with Billy Bob Thornton reprising the role of Morris Buttermaker, will be released on July 22, 2005. For more information, see Bad News Bears.

The Bad News Bears is a 1976 film directed by Michael Ritchie. It stars Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal. The film was followed by two sequels (The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training in 1977 and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan in 1978) and a short-lived television series, none of which were able to duplicate the success of the original. Also notable was the score by Jerry Fielding, which is an adaptation of the principal themes of Carmen.


Morris Buttermaker (Matthau), an alcoholic ex-professional baseball player, becomes the coach of a cellar-dwelling Little League team, the Bears. By recruiting a couple of unlikely prospects - an ex-girlfriend's 11-year old daughter (O'Neal), and local troublemaker Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley) - he turns the team into a winner.

The film was notable in its time for the amount of vulgarity (including profanity and ethnic slurs) placed into the mouths of the various child-actors who played the principal roles (specifically, a memorable Tanner Boyle, played by Chris Barnes, quoted as calling his teammates en masse "a bunch of Jews, spicks, niggers, pansies, and a booger-eating moron"). However, all of the questionable dialogue was used for comic effect. A true product of the mid-70s, the film includes a now-scandalous scene where an inebriated Buttermaker drunkenly drives around a car-full of kids—without seatbelts—in his open-top convertible.

The Bad News Bears was filmed in and around Los Angeles, primarily in the San Fernando Valley. In the film, the Bears were sponsored by the fictional company Chico's Bail Bonds, a touch that fit in nicely with the idea that the Bears were a ragtag group of misfit kids who could not find a more respectable sponsor.

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