6.6/10
4,665
27 user 19 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 »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Ernst Kessler
...
...
Newt
...
...
Roderick Cook ...
Werfel
...
Patsy
...
Scott Newman ...
James S. Appleby ...
Ace
Patrick W. Henderson Jr. ...
Scooter
James N. Harrell ...
Farmer (as James Harrell)
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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Second Greatest Flyer in the World. The war was over - and the world's greatest flyers had never met in combat. But Waldo was going to change all that - even if it killed him. See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 March 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tollkühne Flieger  »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$20,642,922
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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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

When Waldo is refueling his plane from the can delivered to him by the little boy, his hand is seen resting for some time on what would presumably be a very hot exhaust pipe. See more »

Quotes

Ezra Stiles: It's gonna be a monoplane.
Waldo Pepper: A monoplane. Are you telling me you're building me an airplane with only one wing?
Ezra Stiles: Just thought you'd like to know: the biplane's gone the way of the Dodo.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Gabriel's Fire: The Great Waldo (1991) 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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