Saturday, June 2, 2012
Movie Review: The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)
A bittersweet look back at the early days of flight, The Great Waldo Pepper mixes nostalgia, comedy and tragedy. Director George Roy Hill teams up again with Robert Redford and they effectively keep the characters at the centre of the drama despite the preponderance of buzzy airplanes and aerial stunt sequences.
The Great Waldo Pepper is deceptively sad. While an overall sense of flying for fun and laughter in the face of danger permeates the film, the script by Hill and William Goldman contains several moments of severe calamity. Sudden and sometimes spectacular death was an almost routine part of the early days of flight, and to give credit to Hill, the opening sequence hints at men regularly rubbing shoulders with abrupt catastrophe.
Susan Sarandon makes a big impact in an early supporting role. Mary Beth spots the opportunity to soar out of her humble environment and is quickly mesmerized by the idea of fame and celebrity, the stars in her eyes blinding her to the dangers of stunt flying. Margot Kidder also has a small role as one of Waldo's former girlfriends.
Featuring some amazing aerial photography, with the stars and filmmakers actively participating in the creation of the memorable stunt scenes, The Great Waldo Pepper is a celebration of flight and the men who touched the sky only to realize that nothing on earth can compare.
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