The success of Bingo Long stems from its ability to deal with racism, inequality, greed, and desperation with nothing less than an uncomfortable smile. It’s fun, but never loses what makes this story inherently important – showing pre-WWII American culture from the perspective of Negro league baseball.

What League of Their Own did for sexism in baseball, Bingo Long does the same for racial division. Carefully, Bingo Long doesn’t overstep into its themes and the barnstorming, traveling All-Stars delight with their antics. With a Harlem Globetrotters-esque pizzazz, Billy Dee Williams leads this squad across the country to form their own pro sports business, away from the obvious corruption they see in the Negro leagues.

Bingo Long doesn’t overstep into its themes

Williams, James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor, and Otis Day sell the idea of this misfit but talented team, doing what they can to escape the ever present “man” who does nothing but take their money. While the racial elements are never hidden, Bingo Long remains a piece of black culture, with black owners, black players, and primarily black fans. Bingo Long doesn’t excuse white racism, but treats it as a known entity – this was mid-to-late-’30s America, and Bingo Long acknowledges that reality without overt force.

This lets Bingo Long focus on its characters, a delightful group mixed between star actors, actual pro players, and comic bit parts that gel as a cohesive whole. The jazzy score jumps from 1930s deep south, serenading the antics as the team continues to find trouble, much of it not of their own doing… but not all. It’s raucous but PG, profane but soft, and harsh but real.

Authenticity proves crucial. To keep the team floundering, Bingo Long uses the environment and the era for all its worth. Spurts of anger and violence pop naturally without calling attention to any one cause. Rather, it’s building toward an admittedly eye-rolling, predictable finish, but everything that comes before creates a rousing and satisfying finale no matter how absurd. That comes back to the characters too, and the cast who imbue their roles with enthusiastic charms. They feel bonded; they’re close allies and friends as much as they are business partners, joining together to overcome obvious injustice. That’s easy to cheer for.


Australia’s Indicator called first dibs on Bingo Long for Blu-ray, but Mill Creek’s US release likely uses the same master. It’s a decent one. While sharing a disc with Which Way Is Up?, there’s enough space to handle both cleanly. Bingo Long isn’t the sharpest and compression cuts down on the highest resolution potential, yet the loss is minor overall. Texture remains visible, crisp, and reasonably defined. Film grain looks like grain, albeit with a slight digital touch.

While contrast and color don’t add much punch (faded from age, no doubt), uniforms and stadiums bring a touch of energy. Black levels hit true black, the disc’s best quality and most consistent. Bingo Long doesn’t lack depth, thankfully, even if the top-end contrast lacks intensity.


Serviceable DTS-HD mono offers stable fidelity with obvious age in the dialog. Crowds and other high-pitch sound effects struggle and waver; the rest functions fine. The score has the most pep, as these things usually go. That even offers a slight range at its best.



Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars
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Bingo Long’s enthusiasm, push for equal rights, and consistent comedy make it a forgotten gem in the sports movie hierarchy.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 41 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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