A biplane pilot who had missed flying in WWI takes up barnstorming and later a movie career in his quest for the glory he had missed, eventually getting a chance to prove himself in a film ...
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George Roy Hill
A biplane pilot who had missed flying in WWI takes up barnstorming and later a movie career in his quest for the glory he had missed, eventually getting a chance to prove himself in a film depicting the dogfights in the Great War.Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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. Scenes with Robert Redford and Bo Svenson climbing out on the wing were done without any security harness or parachutes. See more »
Ernst Kessler's plane in the airshow scenes is a Pitts Special, a design that was first built in 1944. See more »
It's gonna be a monoplane.
A monoplane. Are you telling me you're building me an airplane with only one wing?
Just thought you'd like to know: the biplane's gone the way of the Dodo.
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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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