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Big Wednesday (1978)

PG  |   |  Drama, Sport  |  May 1978 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 4,324 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 33 critic

The lives of some California surfers from the early '60s to the '70s.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Johnson
Jack Barlow
Leroy Smith
Sally Jacobson
Jim 'Waxer' King
Shopping Cart (as Hank Warden)
Joe Spinell ...
Sally's Husband
Mrs. Barlow
Dennis Aaberg ...


Matt Johnson, Jack Barlow, and Leroy Smith are three young California surfers in the 1960s. At first reveling in the carefree life of beaches, girls, and waves, they eventually must face the fact that the world is changing, becoming more complex, less answerable by simple solutions. Ultimately the Vietnam war interrupts their idyll, leaving them to wonder if they will survive until "Big Wednesday," the mythical day when the greatest, cleanest, most transcendent wave of all will come. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A day will come that is like no other... and nothing that happens after will ever be the same See more »


Drama | Sport


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

May 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Summer of Innocence  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tom Berenger auditioned for the part of "Jack Barlowe" that went to William Katt. See more »


It is 1965, but 1970s cars are visible as they drive to the military entrance processing station. See more »


Leroy the Masochist: He ain't no hodad Squidlips!
See more »


Referenced in Point Break (1991) See more »


Three Friends Theme
Music by Basil Poledouris
Lyrics & Vocals by Keola Beamer (as Keola) & Kapono Beamer
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

14 March 2002 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

I first saw this film in 1978, my father took me to see it with my brothers at the drive-in as a double feature with "Every Which Way But Loose." It's a movie that I have never forgotten. It combines brilliantly heart gripping surfing action, heart wrenching emotions, and heart uplifting humour, all set against the back-drop of the Vietnam War, teenagers growing up, the wisdom of elders (Bear) and of course, the surfing.

I've never surfed a minute of my entire life (although whenever I watch this, I feel like I should), so don't think of this as a "surf movie". It simply is an excellent piece of cinematic history that you will feel you missed on if you never see it.

Recommended with 2 thumbs way way way up.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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