Cinema: Rock Fable or Teen Ballad?

LA BAMBA

A few Top 40 hits and a fatal plane crash. How many films can be squeezed out of this formula? O.K., The Buddy Holly Story and Patsy Cline's Sweet Dreams were good movies. But . . . La Bamba? Ritchie Valens was only 17 when he, Holly and J.P. ("Big Bopper") Richardson died in 1959. His music is surely worth remembering; his life is hardly worth dramatizing. So Writer-Director Luis Valdez shapes facts into fable. Valens' family is a chicano caricature; death forever stalks our shooting star; chunky Ritchie is made over into winsome Lou Diamond Phillips. Even the...

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