Big Wednesday (1978)

PG  |   |  Drama, Sport  |  May 1978 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 4,375 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 33 critic

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


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2 nominations. See more awards »



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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)
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


Three friends. Twelve Turbulent Years. And One Day We All Must Face. 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
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Did You Know?


The role of the "Enforcer" was loosely based on longtime Malibu icon and waterman Ray Kunze who looked out for John Milus (director) and Dennis Aaberg (co-writer) in the late 50's. See more »


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


Girl at Party: You've got a great figure.
Peggy Gordon: Thank you. You too.
Girl at Party: Is that a padded bra?
Peggy Gordon: No, this is all me.
Girl at Party: God.
Peggy Gordon: You should try a padded bra.
Girl at Party: I have one on.
See more »


Referenced in Point Break (1991) See more »


He's a Rebel
Written by Gene Pitney
Performed by The Crystals
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Up there with Endless Summer and Point Break
12 June 2002 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

A rite of passage film comparable to Stand By Me. The film follows the lives of three men through their late teens and twenties during the troubled period of American history that was the Vietnam war. The bond between these men is exemplified by their shared love for surfing and one another. With creative photography, Jan Michael Vincent (of Airwolf fame), Gary Busey (who makes a sneaky surfing appearance again in Point Break), and William Katt (who went on to star in such films as House) doing much of their own surfing, complemented by a professional team of surfing stunt doubles including Jerry Lopez make this one of the surfing all-time classics along-side Bruce Browns 1966 Endless Summer. Whether you're into surfing or not, you'll enjoy this for its story, feel good factor, and of course the surfing footage. Watch it.

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