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Big Wednesday (1978)

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2:52 | Trailer
The lives of some California surfers from the early 1960s to the 1970s.

Director:

John Milius
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jan-Michael Vincent ... Matt Johnson
William Katt ... Jack Barlow
Gary Busey ... Leroy Smith
Patti D'Arbanville ... Sally Jacobson
Lee Purcell ... Peggy Gordon
Sam Melville ... Bear
Darrell Fetty ... Jim 'Waxer' King
Gerry Lopez ... Gerry Lopez
Hank Worden ... Shopping Cart (as Hank Warden)
Joe Spinell ... Psychologist
Steve Kanaly ... Sally's Husband
Barbara Hale ... Mrs. Barlow
Fran Ryan ... Lucy
Dennis Aaberg Dennis Aaberg ... Slick
Reb Brown ... Enforcer
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Storyline

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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Could the big breaker break them up? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 May 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Summer of Innocence See more »

Filming Locations:

La Libertad, El Salvador See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

A-Team See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39:1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director John Milus wrote the screen play for Apocalypse Now. Apocalypse Now depicts a surfer named Lance Johnson. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Leroy the Masochist: He ain't no hodad Squidlips!
See more »

Alternate Versions

ABC edited 31 minutes from this film for its 1985 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Surf Now Apocalypse Later (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

What'd I Say
(1959) (uncredited)
Written by Ray Charles
Performed by Ray Charles
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Best feature length drama dealing with surfing
12 May 2003 | by mikej-4See all my reviews

There have been many feature length films out of Hollywood that have latched on to the subject of surfing. Endless Summer is the definitive classic, but it falls under the category of a documentary. The others are somewhere between comedy and drama. Some are cult classics and others are just plain silly 60's teeny movies. North Shore is a cult classic, but as a drama and a story it is basically lame, but I still like North Shore alot. Big Wednesday is truly credible. The story is great, the characters are great and it is worthy of respect as cinema. It is a kind of timeless story which happens to be told using the backdrop of Southern California surf culture. Those who live outside of this world may not fully apprieciate all of the nuances present or understand the surfer-surf-surfboard relationship. Now as to locations for filming: Most of the scenes are shot at Cojo Point, which is in Santa Barbara County, CA. Cojo is located in a remote part of this county and is not accessible by any public means other than by boat (the beach front is all private land). Other scenes were shot in El Salvador at a place called La Libertad. It isn't always easy to tell them apart. Both breaks are well above average in quality when on. The scenes with the more textured water that has a wilder appearance are probably La Libertad. The final and climactic scene on "Big Wednesday" is at Sunset Beach on Oahu's north shore. This is where Rick Kane first paddles out with Occy and Alex in North Shore. Sunset is a heavy wave breaking on an outside reef that can hold size and is no place for the inexperienced. Gerry Lopez does a reasonable job surfing Sunset with his back to the wave. Gerry was better known for his exploits at Pipeline, where he could surf facing the wave. Surfers like Billy Hamilton, Peter Townend and Ian Cairns were probably giving a stronger account of themselves at Sunset in the final scene. John Milius was never a surfer of any particular note growing up around Malibu, so I would question the autobiographical basis. He probably witnessed this type of stuff, but I don't know about actually participating.


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