Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones are superb as leaders of a barnstorming black baseball team circa 1939. Based on a William Brashler novel, the script is an adroit mix of broad comedy and credible dramatic conflict.

Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones are superb as leaders of a barnstorming black baseball team circa 1939. Based on a William Brashler novel, the script is an adroit mix of broad comedy and credible dramatic conflict.

Fed up with the hard-nosed ways of team owner Ted Ross, Williams quits a team in the old Negro (remember the film’s period) baseball league. Shut out of the league, and not yet admitted to mainstream sports, the slap-happy crew discovers success by combining top performance with farce.

But Ross’s goons (Ken Force and Carl Gordon) eventually get the upper hand.

Among the standout featured players is Richard Pryor, shifting amusingly from Cuban to Indian heritages as a way to break the black barrier.

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings

Production

Motown/Pan-Arts. Director John Badham; Producer Rob Cohen; Screenplay Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins; Camera Bill Butler; Editor David Rawlins; Music William Goldstein; Art Director Lawrence G. Paull

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1976. Running time: 110 MIN.

With

Billy Dee Williams James Earl Jones Richard Pryor Rico Dawson Sam 'Birmingham' Brison Jophery Brown
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more