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The Great Waldo Pepper
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The Great Waldo Pepper More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Spectacular story about WWI fliers turned barnstorming aerial stunt pilots including superb flying sequences

Author: ma-cortes from Santander Spain
23 December 2014

The film's opening title card read: "Nebraska, 1926" and shows the old black-and-white Universal Pictures logo presentation, which features an old early 20th Century plane flying around the orbit of the planet earth . The Second Greatest Flyer in the World . The war was over - and the world's greatest flyers had never met in combat . But Waldo was going to change all that - even if it killed him . The era the picture is set in is mostly the ¨Roaring Twenties¨ , specifically the period is between 1926 and 1931 , in which bitter pilots are reduced to defying death in air flying circus such as Waldo Pepper (Robert Redford) , Axel Olson (Bo Svenson) and Ezra Stiles (Edward Herrmann). As a disillusioned biplane pilot named Waldo who had missed flying in WWI takes up barnstorming and later he carries out a movie career in his quest for the glory he had missed . After that , the pilot-become-barnstormer gets hired as a stuntman for the Hollywood movies . Eventually getting a chance to prove himself in a film depicting the dogfights in the Great War . Waldo believes the honor of the best WWI fighter pilots and he deems to be the German Ernst Kessler (Bo Brundin) who is working in Hollywwod as an aerial stunt .

This attractive drama about flying results to be an elegiac homage to WWI fliers . It features impressive vintage aircraft flying sequences made by expert stunts and professional pilots . However , there are no studio takes in airplanes , all close-ups of actors being airborne were done for real, sometimes with George Roy Hill, a former Marine pilot himself, flying the airplane while directing ; as scenes with Robert Redford and Bo Svenson climbing out on the wing were done without any security harness or parachutes . The film reunited three successful Hollywood professionals of the sixties and seventies : actor Robert Redford , filmmaker George Roy Hill , and screen-writer William Goldman , the latter Oscar Winner for ¨The Sting ¨. All of them got a big hit with ¨Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid¨ . Breathtaking as well as overwhelming flying sequences , intelligent plot and brilliant scenes are major assets in this stunning flick . Robert Redford gives one of his best acting , along with Bo Svenson and Bo Brundin ; both actors are Swedish . The notorious secondary player Geoffrey Lewis also gives an admiring interpretation , as always . The movie represents an early screen role of actress Susan Sarandon , the film was one two 1975 movies that Sarandon appeared in that were released in that year , he other one was The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) which is considered to feature Sarandon's breakthrough film role . The yarn features actress Margot Kidder who became famous for starring in the "Superman" franchise with Christopher Reeve .

Colorful as well as evocative cinematography by the great cameraman Robert Surtees , a photographer expert on super-productions . Lively and enjoyable musical score by Henry Mancini , Pink Panther's composer . The movie is pretty well but had a commercial flop . The motion picture was compellingly directed by George Roy Hill . This is third and final of three films that as an actor, Robert Redford made with director George Roy Hill, he first two were The Sting (1973) and Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid (1969) . George Roy Hill had a long career from the fifties until the eighties with hit smashes such as ¨The world according to Garp¨ , ¨Slap shot¨, ¨Butch Cassidy¨, ¨The Sting¨ , ¨Hawaii¨ , ¨The world of Henry Orient¨ and commercial failures such as ¨The little drummer girl¨ , ¨A little romance¨ , ¨Slaughterhouse five¨, ¨Throughly Millie¨ , ¨Toys in the attic¨ , ¨Period of adjustment¨ and this ¨The great Waldo Pepper¨ ; however , the latter being today better considered than old times . Rating : 6,5/10 Above average . Worthwhile watching .

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Thoroughly enjoyable, Redford in his prime

Author: Mathias Nagy (rocdoc2004) from QLD, Australia
1 April 2010

Watching all these wonderful actors in their prime, the great storyline and the great cinematography for the first time has had me enthralled. This is a really enjoyable film with considerable depth. In my mind it is an exploration of the competitive nature of the flyers themselves - whether friends or rivals, one soon becomes acutely aware of their constant need to push their limits, not only amongst themselves but also within themselves.

For some reason this film is only averaging a rating of 6.4, and it deserves much more than that, so my vote will hopefully help to reflect a more appropriate rating for what is a really enjoyable movie.

Even if you are not into aviator flicks, you will enjoy this movie - it is an excellent example of the filmmakers and scriptwriters art. I give it my heartiest recommendation.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Post WW-I barnstorming pilot has a shot at living his dream.

Author: lewwarden from United States
12 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love this picture for many reasons. I don't know why it isn't available on DVD. It reminds me of my childhood dreams of becoming a military pilot and the joys (and terrors) of flying. As a teen-age in the mid-1930's I saw Ernst Udet drag the Oakland Airport with his swept-wing bi-plane inverted and pick a handkerchief off the runway with his wing tip. And about 8 years earlier, when I was about 6, I lived in Rio Vista on the Sacramento River mid-way between Sacramento and San Francisco, when a mail plane crashed in a grain field just outside of town. I ran out with a crowd of town folks and other kids. By the time we got to the plane it was burning fiercely with the pilot trapped in the cockpit and no way the men in the crowd could have rescued him. Everyone was grim-faced and silent, except for one smart alec who said he wished he'd brought his knife and fork because the burning pilot smelled good. I have often wondered if this gruesome event inspired The Great Waldo Pepper's scene where Waldo's friend crashes and burns. But I expect this was a common occurrence.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The word "great" also describes the movie

Author: Ralpho from United States
12 January 2003

This movie has special significance for me because I first saw it as a

teenager. Yet it holds up as a great movie for me 28 years after it was

made (unlike some others I could name).

I like Robert Redford in almost anything, and he's at his best here as

a barnstorming pilot in the 1920s who pretends to have seen more action

in World War One than he did. He made me feel for the character when he

said, "It should have been me" after rival flyer Axel Olsen exposed him

as a "four-flusher" for claiming he was a key figure in a famous battle.

Pepper finally gets his chance to go up against the German World War One

ace Ernst Kessler (perhaps loosely based on the real German ace Ernst

Udet) as a stunt pilot in a movie crew.

The dialogue scenes between Pepper and Kessler leading up to the

climactic dogfight are the best part of the movie, even though Kessler's

lines seemed to be written more in the interest of serving the plot than

in serving the character.

The idea that Kessler was a man who only felt at home in the air, for

whom nothing worked out well on the ground, resonated with me, as it did

with Pepper, who felt the same way.

In closing, I'd like to mention the beginning of the movie when Waldo

Pepper lands at a small town in Iowa to offer airplane rides. He

promises a free ride at the end of the day to a boy named Scooter if he

will tote a 5-gallon gas can back and forth from the filling station to

keep Pepper's plane fueled.

The song that plays over the opening credits during this sequence has

stuck with me for 28 years. I heard it again in 1992 while attending a

boot camp graduation ceremony at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training

Command and remembered it from the movie. I don't know the name of it,

but I love that song.

Anyway, at the end of the day Scooter asks for his free ride and Pepper

says he only promised that to get him to haul gas. He never takes kids

for rides. Whether the character is kidding or not isn't clear, but it

certainly seems that Scooter (and his dog) get the best ride of the day.

That sequence establishes Pepper as a decent, if somewhat slippery

character and gets the m

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not one of Redford's best...unless you're into flying films

Author: vincentlynch-moonoi from United States
14 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've long been impressed with the variety of films in which Robert Redford starred during his prime years. He took chances tackling roles that few others would accept, and there was always a sense of quality in his films.

That being said, it almost seems as if this film didn't quite know what it wanted to be. A sort of light-hearted look at stunt pilots? Well, that's in there. A serious look at the psyche of aerial daredevils? Well, that's in there, too. The first half of the film and the last half of the film seem almost like different stories. The most interesting part of the film is the relationship that develops between Waldo Pepper (Redford) and a German flying ace from World War I; but again, what exactly is the point. Oh, and yes, some of the flying is quite stunning. I couldn't help but think how differently this film would be made today with all the computerized special effects. However, from my perspective, it's quite a depressing film...including the ending.

There's certainly nothing wrong with the acting here. Robert Redford is flyer Waldo Pepper, and is very believable in the role. Bo Svenson, no favorite of mine, is quite good here as another stunt flyer. Bo Brundin is interesting as the clearly moody German air ace. I never cared much for Susan Sarandon, but she does well here as the slightly ditzy girlfriend of one or both of the American stunt pilots. Geoffrey Lewis, a reliable character actor, does well here, as he pretty much always did. Edward Herrmann has a somewhat small role, and is almost unidentifiable; this seems before he was typecast in later roles.

I have quite a few favorite Robert Redford films, but this is not one I want to watch again. Once in 1975 and once in 2015 is plenty for me. Of course, if you are into aeronautics, you might warm up to this film more than I did.

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When the airplane was a big toy

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
22 February 2016

Robert Redford got one of his best roles in The Great Waldo Pepper which was directed by George Roy Hill who did right by him with Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and The Sting. It does a wonderful job of capturing a bygone era of the Twenties when after World War I, the airplane was a big toy played with by some big kids.

The airplane got invented just in time for use in the war to end all wars. But no one figured out quite what to do with it. In point of fact it didn't have the capacity to drop bombs on the enemy to do that much damage. In the trench warfare days the real function was scouting those enemy lines to see and report on troop dispositions. But the other side did the same thing. So when they met dogfights happened. They were colorful and exciting, but didn't really do much militarily.

Aces got their reputations like the real life Baron Von Richtofen and Hermann Goering and the fictional Ernest Kessler as played by Bo Brundin here. Waldo Pepper in the Great War came up too late to show his stuff even though his former squadron leader Geoffrey Lewis says he was the most natural flier he ever saw. He had a brief encounter with Brundin days before the Armistice where Brundin let him off. He never got a chance to prove himself.

Now he proves himself every day in the various flying circuses doing daredevil stunts. People who fly do it for the love it and won't be happy going 9 to 5 on the ground. Redford is at the height of his abilities and this is his frustration that he never got to show his stuff in the arena where it really counted. Redford did a wonderful job in fleshing this aspect of his character.

But his world is changing, if the military has put aviation on hold there are lots of commercial uses. And a guy named Herbert Hoover who Secretary of Commerce at that time spearheaded the creation of the Civil Aeronautics Agency to regulate air traffic. Airplanes would be hauling mail and people and would soon be large enough to haul freight. Not a world that calls for daredevil daring.

The Great Waldo Pepper is one of Robert Redford's best films and roles. The Great Robert Redford has this part really nailed down. Some other folks in the cast are a tragic Edward Herrmann who hasn't got the skill as a pilot that Redford has and shows it. Susan Sarandon plays a budding wing walker who also perishes tragically in one of her early roles. George Roy Hill assembled a great supporting cast to back up Redford.

In the end it's Redford who makes The Great Waldo Pepper great.

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Very good earlier Robert Redford flying movie.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
18 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember 1975 well, I was living in the New Orleans area and my 4th child was born, a cute little daughter. That daughter is 38 now. And I remember this movie, by title only, but never saw it. For some reason the title didn't draw me in. Now, in 2013 I found it on Netflix and find it to be a very nice, very enjoyable movie.

Being a guy I never identified with the "star power" of Robert Redford, but I know why many of the ladies did, he was a really good-looking guy in his 30s. But could he act? Well in fact he was a very good actor, and I witnessed that over the years in other movies.

Here he is Waldo Pepper, the story starts in 1926 after WW1. He is a pilot, apparently a very good one, but had spent the war as an instructor and had missed the aerial battles. But he spoke of them, as if he had been there, as if he were the war hero. That comes to an abrupt halt when he encounters the hero he was talking about, Bo Svenson as Axel Olsson. Eventually they form a friendship and fly for one of those traveling aerial carnivals, doing stunts and giving rides.

This was the time of transition, planes were getting more common and the government was stepping in, to regulate planes and pilots, to make sure there was a baseline safety factor. Waldo Pepper did not deal easily with those new regulations.

The other key character is Bo Brundin as Ernst Kessler, the famous German fighter pilot of WW1. Everyone knew he was regarded as perhaps the best, while he also knew of Waldo Pepper, and knew he was one of the best. The climax of the story is when Ernst and Waldo are hired in a movie-filming job, they are to simulate an aerial battle. But the two rivals, once in the air, were determined to see who was best, and with dummy guns resorted to close passes and physical contact.

The last few scenes pay off very well, first as the two men discuss the famous WW1 battle, and then the aerial battle of the biplanes. It was also nice seeing a young Susan Sarandon and a young Margot Kidder, a full 3 years before her famous role as Lois Lane in one of the Superman movies.

All-in-all a fine example of a 1970s movie, and Redford was already at the top of his form.

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A top notch feature film

Author: oscar-35 from working in Movieland
14 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*Spoiler/plot- The Great Waldo Pepper, 1975. Follows the life post WW1 of a pilot trying to get work barnstorming and in the film business. He meets up with other aviators and has many adventures in the USA.

*Special Stars- Robert Redford, Bo Svenson, Bo Brundin, Susan Sarandon, Margot Kidder, Geoffrey Lewis, Edward Herrmann.

*Theme- Aviation is a heady career.

*Trivia/location/goofs- This film is based on some real-life early 'barn-stormers'. The location for the WW1 filming set was an alfalfa farm right off the road that leads from the town of Piru Ca to the nearby lake of that name. Wing walking was done by the lead actors without safety equipment. Some camera shadows are seen during the wing walking.

*Emotion- A throughly great and entertaining film on all levels. It could be another classic favorite film from the director, George Roy Hill. The casting and plot keep the viewer interested and the pacing of the film is enjoyable. A top notch feature film about interesting characters and adventures.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A special treat

Author: mulveymeister from Ireland
1 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm sorry to hear that this film is not as respected as I had assumed. This is a great film on so many levels and I highly recommend it. I saw it aged 13 and it absolutely thrilled me. Waldo's friend's death in a crash and fire may correctly need a PG warning but the film will still give most kids a love of flying. For the next 10 years I knew I would be a fighter pilot! There are obvious comparisons with The Blue Max, made 9 years earlier. I like the civilian side to this film. Susan Sharendon's sudden exit was a real shocker, which took me months to get over. In conclusion, I think that this was the first film that I watched, thinking I am an adult enjoying an adult story. It made me feel great and I've had a fascination with film ever since. All thanks to Waldo!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good Aviation Adventure Flick

Author: jbartelone from United States
29 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw The Great Waldo Pepper in its first theatrical release back in 1975. The story revolves around Waldo Pepper, a flight instructor from the post-Word War I era, who along with his buddies have a passion for stunt flying. Desperate for money, they preform numerous barnstorming stunts at various air-shows, such as Wing Walking, sometimes with tragic results. There are two noted aviation deaths in this movie, one in particular at a county fair, that is very painful to watch.

The cinematography is stunning. Robert Redford as Waldo Pepper, preformed all of his own stunts for the movie. Actual aviation and stunt pilots assisted in the production of the film with real aircraft used. There are no models or computer generated sequences of any kind in this movie. The result is a very realistic experience.

The problem with TGWP seems to be an apathetic approach that many of the characters have when a tragic circumstance occurs in the film. Although Waldo shows great emotion in the tragic air-show accident where his friend burns to death in a haunting scene that you will remember for the rest of your life, there are many quick shifts in the movie where the attitude becomes "business as usual" where "What are we going to do about our careers?" becomes more important than a person's life. There's a certain degree of arrogance about Waldo's character. But this is not in regards to how Redford plays him. Maybe the attitude of barnstorming pilots at the time was to become apathetic to tragic death, because they just accepted the risks associated with stunt flying and barnstorming as a way of life.

The film sputters a bit in the second half with the Hollywood stunt sequences after Waldo is grounded by the aviation authorities following a girl's tragic wing-walking death. The ending is memorable. But there seems to be something missing from The Great Waldo Pepper to make it "great." However, it is still strong enough to be "good." One precaution is that very small children may have some problems with the death scenes.

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