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'The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)' Movie Review

'The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)'
'The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)'
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

The Great Waldo Pepper


Waldo Pepper (Robert Redford) flew in WWI as an instructor. He never flew in combat and this has bothered him all these years. It's several years later and he is barnstorming in the Midwest making a buck any way he can. He has inflated his career as a pilot so he can gain peoples trust.

He and another barnstormer Axel Olsson (Bo Svenson) are doing the same thing but from different angles. At first they can't stand each other but they find if they team up both can do better financially.

They try to perform certain stunts but they never seem to get their act together. Waldo gets hurt and ends up back in the arms of a former girlfriend named Maude (Margot Kidder). It seems when Waldo is hurt he ends up back in Maude's care and at first she is not happy about seeing him. They eventually get together and it's her brother Ezra (Edward Herrmann) who thinks he can get Waldo into a monoplane. You see with this plane Waldo wants to undertake a certain high flying stunt.

In the meantime Waldo teams back up with Axel and they join a flying circus. Waldo takes on a girl by the name of Mary Beth (Susan Sarandon) who is his wing walker. She's a looker and he thinks that will help his show. During a show though she dies in a accident. Waldo is grounded but still continues to fly.

Ezra finally gets his monoplane up and flying but during an airshow he crashes. As Waldo is trying to get him out of the plane everyone of the spectators just sit there and watch. No one tries to help and with gasoline coming out of the plane it is becoming more dangerous. One of the spectators not thinking flicks a lit cigarette into the area around the plane and Ezra burns to death. Waldo freaks out and starts buzzing the crowd.

Waldo once again is grounded but under an alias hooks up with flying stunts for a movie. Also flying is Waldo's WWI hero Ernst Kessler (Bo Brundin). Does Waldo get that second chance to prove to himself that he was that good? Watch the movie and find out. This is a very entertaining film in that the flying action is quite good.

Director George Roy Hill teaming up with Redford for their third movie does a great job with an excellent cast. This is one of those movies that critics looked too hard at but forgot what entertainment is all about and that is to be entertained. Enjoy.