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Big Wednesday

By Sean Axmaker

John Milius charts a decade of social change as three surfing buddies use the sport as a personal touchstone for their lives while growing up in the turbulent 1960s. Irresponsible hot-dogging legend Matt (Jan-Michael Vincent), serious and stable Jack (William Katt), and mad misfit Leroy, a.k.a. "Masochist" (Gary Busey), are teenage surf bums in 1963, living at the beach in a perpetual summer under the sway of surfboard-maker Bear (Sam Melville), guru, mentor, and keeper of the lore. But the times they are a changin' and boys grow up in the shadow of Vietnam while adulthood pushes them into hard decisions. John Milius mixes the nostalgia of American Graffiti with the reverence of a John Ford cavalry drama. Surfing becomes a kind of spiritual quest spoken of in awed mythic tones and photographed with the epic grandeur of a rite of passage. Milius's heavy-handed direction and reverent attitude slows the films and will turn off some viewers, but Milius fans will appreciate his macho stylings and philosophical musings, and surfing fans will love the spectacular surfing footage, including the dazzling stylings of world champion Gerry Lopez (who Milius later cast in Conan the Barbarian). Lee Purcell costars as Matt's supportive wife, with Patti D'Arbanville, Barbara Hale, and Robert Englund in supporting roles. Look for Ford stock player Hank Worden in a small role and Milius himself in a cameo selling marijuana in Tijuana.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: John Milius

Stars: Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, Gary Busey, Lee Purcell, Patti D'Arbanville, Sam Melville, Robert Englund, Barbara Hale, Reb Brown, Steve Kanaly, Michael Talbott, Charlene Tilton

Released: May 16, 1978

Availability: DVD VHS


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