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The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings film image

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings

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Steven Spielberg was originally interested in directing this boisterous comedy about a breakaway barnstorming Black baseball team in the 1930s. Motown boss Berry Gordy produced it, and the cast is headed up by Star Wars duo Billy Dee Williams (as pitcher Bingo Long, a cavalier showman who is fed up with the exploitive owners in the Negro League) and James Earl Jones (as catcher and homerun hitter Leon Carter, who encourages Bingo by quoting Karl Marx). They decide to go it alone and create a Harlem Globetrotters-style roster of clowns and show-boaters, taking on white teams when the League locks the out of Black games – and sharing the profits equally across the board.

Jaws DP Bill Butler is the cinematographer and indeed the production work is excellent throughout. Director John Badham grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and was familiar with segregated ball games, bringing some of that authenticity to an always engaging and entertaining picture about talented and resourceful Black sportsmen rewriting the rules of the game. As a bonus, we also get a juicy supporting turn from the young Richard Pryor.

Genial, slapdash, high-spirited and occasionally moving. For a comedy whose principal mission is to entertain, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars also manages to provoke a lot of more sober, subsidiary responses that, happily, never get in the way of the show.

Vincent Canby, New York Times

Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones are superb.



John Badham


Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor

Country of Origin






110 min

Book Tickets

Sunday February 12

5:30 pm
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Executive Producer

Berry Gordy


Rob Cohen


Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins


Bill Butler


David Rawlins

Original Music

William Goldstein

Production Design

Lawrence G Paull

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