Big Wednesday Dir John Milius 1978
Roger Ebert did A review of a film where he talked about seeing the film every ten years… and his appreciation of the film changed every ten years as he grew older. I am finding this to be very true in a lot of different ways.
Take Big Wednesday. A film that bombed at the box office upon first release but then gained a cult following in cable showings. In the late 70’s I was living in Los Angeles and living almost on the beach in Newport Beach. We had cable back then put in and it was a huge deal for us. I believe it was the Z channel ( for those old enough to remember them) but I may be mistaken. But what I do remember was that every month they only showed like 10 films. And they showed them over and over and over.
That was my first viewing of Big Wednesday. They showed them surfing. They showed them partying. They showed the beach. They showed the girls on the beach. And I became obsessed with this film. The first half of the film shows what life was like for teenagers who lived near the beach in the 60’s. It was wild. And It looked fun.
Then Vietnam came. And the Draft. And it shows how two went in the service. And two stayed out. It showed how their lives changed and they could never go back to what was. It was a tremendous coming of age movie. But back then It was the first half I wanted to see again and again. As I was barely older than the characters in the film.
Well Last week I went back and watched this film again. What was striking to me was how I remembered virtually all of the first half of the film. Even repeating lines. But… The second half… It was like I had never seen it. With this viewing the second half of the film was very powerful. Seeing them all struggle with life after growing up could be related to my own life and struggles. And the last scene…well…When Big Wednesday comes… Its a great ending to a fine film.
But this time it was the after growing up that sticks with me. As I see it now that I’m older. And the first half almost seemed silly. Easy. Carefree. Like life itself.
Note. Milius Spielberg And Lucas all were close friends and making pictures at the same time. They made a bet between them that Big Wednesday was going to be the most successful. The other films… Star Wars and Close Encounters.