La Bamba is a 1987 American biographical drama film written and directed by Luis Valdez. The film follows the life and short-lived musical career of Mexican-American Chicano rock and roll star Ritchie Valens. The film stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Valens, Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña, Danielle von Zerneck and Joe Pantoliano. The film also covers the effect that Valens' career had on the lives of his half-brother Bob Morales, his girlfriend Donna Ludwig, and the rest of his family. The film is titled after a Mexican folk song of the same name, which Valens transformed into a rock and roll rendition in 1958. In 2017, La Bamba was included in the annual selection of 25 motion pictures added to the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and recommended for preservation.


During the Summer of 1957 in Northern California, Richard "Richie" Steven Valenzuela is a 16-year old Mexican-American boy who lives with his mother, Concepcion “Connie” Valenzuela and his younger brothers and sisters. His family is poor, and he works as a farmhand after school. He loves music, especially rock and roll, and dreams of becoming a famous musician. Richie suffers from aviophobia due to recurring nightmares about the mid-air collision that occurred directly over his school, in which his best friend was crushed to death by the fallen aircraft, an event he did not witness due to attending his grandfather's funeral. One day, Richie's troubled older half-brother Bob Morales arrives after being released from jail, surprising him and his mother. They all decide to leave the farm and move to a house in Southern California, along with Bob's girlfriend, Rosie.