IMDb > Big Wednesday (1978) > Synopsis
Big Wednesday
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Synopsis for
Big Wednesday (1978) More at IMDbPro »

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Malibu, California, 1962. Matt the Enforcer (Jan-Michael Vincent), Jack (William Katt), and Leroy the Masochist (Gary Busey) are the three best surfers of the beach. The morning of the South swell Matt is drunk, but he borrows a board from a little boy and succeeds in giving an excellent performance anyway. The three friends usually take their boards for free from Bear (Sam Melville), a man that believes in their success and who owns illegally a shop in a hut on the pier. Jack meets Sally (Patti D'Arbanville), a nice girl from Chicago, in the caf where she works as a waitress. He takes her home, to a frantic and chaotic party. The three go for a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, where Peggy (Lee Purcell), Matt's girlfriend, announces to be pregnant: she and Matt will have a baby. The Police make Bear's shop close: the pier will be demolished.

Three years later. Jack, the most serious of the three, is the lifeguard of the beach, and is still with Sally. Matt lives with Peggy and their little daughter; he's the greatest surf champion, but he is always drunk and depressed: he hates being a hero. While drunk, he provokes a road accident in front of the beach and Jack hits him and throws him off. The three friends, as many others, have received the draft notice, and this means being sent to Vietnam. Bear has got rich: he owns a new bright surf shop and is about to marry. At his wedding, he speaks to Jack about the importance of friendship: Matt and Jack make peace. Malibu guys have all to show up at the induction on the same day. In order to dodge the draft, Leroy pretends to be mentally insane, Matt simulates a serious problem in his leg, Waxer (Darrell Fetty) (another friend from the beach) pretends to be homosexual, but he's not believed. Jack doesn't do anything: he probably thinks it's his patriotic duty. Matt and Leroy succeed in avoiding it. Jack and Waxer are enlisted.

1968. Waxer has died in Vietnam. Matt works as a swimming pool lifeguard. He's invited to the premiere of a surf documentary, with some scenes about him. But he will be disappointed: the film shows how his style has been overcome by a new surf hero, (Gerry Lopez, as himself). Bear has lost all his money, and his wife has left him. Jack comes back home but Sally is not waiting for him. While he was fighting far from home, she married another man, (Steve Kanaly), one of the guys who were at the party in 1962. In the cemetery, in front of Waxer's grave, they remember their dead friend and recall nostalgic memories of the past.

Three years later. Bear has become a drunkard and a homeless, but is still proud of his surfer friends. The greatest swell ever is coming. On the day of its utmost intensity (Big Wednesday) lifeguards warn people to stay off the beach. Matt, Jack and Leroy meet on the shore and go surfing. So does Lopez, the new surfer, who looks at them with admiration and respect. They are still great, but Matt slips off his board and seems to disappear under a gigantic wave. When he reappears, on the beach, he and his two friends are ready to acknowledge the supremacy of Lopez, the new champion, and to leave behind them their past and their youth.
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