Ralph R. Echtinaw | Alma, MI United States | 01/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has special significance for me because I first saw it as a teenager. Yet it holds up as a great movie for me 28 years after it was made (unlike some others I could name).I like Robert Redford in almost anything, and he's at his best here as a barnstorming pilot in the 1920s who pretends to have seen more action in World War One than he did. He made me feel for the character when he said, "It should have been me" after rival flyer Axel Olsen exposed him as a "four-flusher" for claiming he was a key figure in a famous battle.Pepper finally gets his chance to go up against the German World War One ace Ernst Kessler (perhaps loosely based on the real German ace Ernst Udet) as a stunt pilot in a movie crew.The dialogue scenes between Pepper and Kessler leading up to the climactic dogfight are the best part of the movie, even though Kessler's lines seemed to be written more in the interest of serving the plot than in serving the character. The idea that Kessler was a man who only felt at home in the air, for whom nothing worked out well on the ground, resonated with me, as it did with Pepper, who felt the same way.In closing, I'd like to mention the beginning of the movie when Waldo Pepper lands at a small town in Iowa to offer airplane rides. He promises a free ride at the end of the day to a boy named Scooter if he will tote a 5-gallon gas can back and forth from the filling station to keep Pepper's plane fueled. The song that plays over the opening credits during this sequence has stuck with me for 28 years. I heard it again in 1992 while attending a boot camp graduation ceremony at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Command and remembered it from the movie. I don't know the name of it, but I love that song.Anyway, at the end of the day Scooter asks for his free ride and Pepper says he only promised that to get him to haul gas. He never takes kids for rides. Whether the character is kidding or not isn't clear, but it certainly seems that Scooter (and his dog) get the best ride of the day. That sequence establishes Pepper as a decent, if somewhat slippery character and gets the movie off to a good start."
A Classic Reford Film!
Steve Kaden | Las Vegas, Nevada | 06/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I Don't often give movies a five star rating but this one really deserved it. Robert Redford did an excellent job as a World War I flying ace being forced to adapt to a civilian life style after the war and at the same time watch the world, as he knew it, slip away.This happens to many of us as we grow older and the world around begins to change. Like Reford in The Great Waldo Pepper you try and grasp onto what your most familiar with. The world and it's changes leave you behind. What do you do? In this well made, well filmed and well acted movie you will find out about the life and dreams of one man placed where there is no return.The Great Waldo Pepper Has some of the most beautiful flying scenes that you will see anywhere. It turns back the pages of time and gives you a little glimpse of what flying was all about in its infancy. My suggestion: Buy it."
Wish it was in widescreen.
Ralph R. Echtinaw | 06/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I made my dad take me to see this as a 7th grader back in 1975, and I snapped it up on impulse when I ran across it in a store. The aviation sequences are superb. Redford must be a pilot himself as some sequences clearly show him in a plane that is actually flying. The character of Ernst Kessler is loosely based on the real life Ernst Udet (whose picture appears in the opening sequence), a German WWI ace who had the words "Not you again!" painted on the tail of his airplane. A real treat for any early aviation enthusiast as the various reproduction aircraft look amazingly accurate. One thing I liked about the flying sequences was the lack of any soundtrack, just the sound of the vintage engines. Also featured is a young Susan Sarandon. DVD doesn't have any extra features to speak of (not even a trailer) but is priced right. Too bad they didn't do it in widescreen. A few things to look out for: When Olssons wheels fall off his plane at the beginning of the movie, look for tiny castors mounted on the bottom of the planes axle, that's how the stunt pilot was later able to land. The crash into the pond was filmed later. During the wingwalking scene where Pepper attempts to rescue Olssons girlfriend, the two planes nearly collide. Watch the cameraman's reaction to the near-collision."
A Magical Movie Gets Shoddy DVD Treatment
A. Bohnslav | Washington, D.C. | 09/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not going to re-review this movie because the almost universal raves say it all. The true tragedy is that this magical movie's exceptional flying sequences are muddled in this terrible full screen transfer. Watching this in full screen is like watching Lawrence of Arabia or Dr. Zhivago in full screen ... pointless. Please give this movie a new widescreen transfer ... it more than deserves it."
My favorite movie of all time
A. Bohnslav | 12/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a lovestory about airplanes and flying, about a life in the sky. It is powerful, emotional, adventurous and above-all chivalrous. I watched it as a lad and then went on to make my life as a pilot in the world beyond the silver screen. This DVD takes me back to my beginnings."