6.6/10
4,919
27 user 21 critic

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)

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 ... See full summary »

Director:

George Roy Hill

Writers:

George Roy Hill (story), William Goldman (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Redford ... Waldo Pepper
Bo Svenson ... Axel Olsson
Bo Brundin ... Ernst Kessler
Susan Sarandon ... Mary Beth
Geoffrey Lewis ... Newt
Edward Herrmann ... Ezra Stiles
Philip Bruns ... Dillhoefer
Roderick Cook Roderick Cook ... Werfel
Kelly Jean Peters ... Patsy
Margot Kidder ... Maude
Scott Newman Scott Newman ... Duke
James S. Appleby James S. Appleby ... Ace
Patrick W. Henderson Jr. Patrick W. Henderson Jr. ... Scooter
James N. Harrell James N. Harrell ... Farmer (as James Harrell)
Elma Aicklen Elma Aicklen ... Farmer's Wife
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Storyline

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 <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It was a time of heroes...of daredevils, and dames...and Waldo See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 March 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tollkühne Flieger See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$20,642,922
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The name of the activity of walking on a biplane's wings whilst flying was called "wing walking" whilst the general name for the activity of performing flying tricks on airplanes flown by stunt pilots either individually or in groups was called "barnstorming." Organisations that ran these circus shows were called "flying circuses." Stunt pilots who performed these flying stunts and tricks were called "barnstormers." See more »

Goofs

A modern power line tower can be seen during the dogfight sequence between Waldo and Ernst. See more »

Quotes

Dillhoefer: Now, here's what we do. We put her up on the wing...
Duke: And she'll fake being afraid...
Dillhoefer: Right.
Duke: And the wind will blow her clothes off!
Dillhoefer: Yes! Yes!
Waldo Pepper: Wait! Why would the wind blow her clothes off? When I'm wing-walking, the wind doesn't blow MY clothes off.
Dillhoefer: Fool! Nobody wants to come and see YOU with YOUR clothes off!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Beata Virgo Viscera (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The air and the ground

First I must say that this beautiful movie handles the wide screen format extremely well, to watch it on TV comes near to an act of profanation. The lines, the colors , the surfaces, the sun that always seems to be low above the horizon ... The Great Waldo Pepper really is a work of cinematic art.

Secondly I would really like to know how the idea for this script developed. It looks like the aviation business is a metaphor for the movie industry. I would not be surprised had director and co-scriptwriter George Roy Hill put many personal feelings and experiences into it. Aviation stands for freedom. But even in the title scene the constant fear of being forcefully grounded becomes evident – the main character, aviator Waldo Pepper, talks an overawed boy into getting a canister of gas for him with the promise of a free tour above the landing strip. Cute, at first sight, but also curiously grim. It immediately started me wondering how the boy could manage to carry the full canister over the required long distance.

The wish to be free and be able to fly off sets ever more demanding conditions. People get bored with acrobatics, they want to see blood. The artists comply, because they are ambitious but also because they know that it is the only way that allows them to continue. Time moves on and it becomes evident that commercial air service will put an end to the adventurous phase of aviation. Hollywood seems to be the only way out. Acrobats are needed as stunt-men there. The grindhouse routine of the dream factory is not to their liking, but what else can they do? On a set Waldo Pepper meets a famous German flyer he idolizes. Much to his surprise this Erich von Stroheim character is deeply in debt. „In the air, I see heroism, chivalry and a spirit of comraderie", rasps the German, „but on the ground ..." He just limply shrugs. The final quixotic showdown between Pepper and the German is a natural and very good ending of this surprisingly „deep" and rather pessimistic movie that offers far more than nostalgia.


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