John Milius is a larger-than-life Hollywood legend. The character John Goodman played in “The Big Lebowski” was apparently based on Milius, which no one has yet to dispute.
Milius arrived in Hollywood at the same time that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg did and made a big impression early on. He wrote the original script for “Apocalypse Now,” wrote the classic Dirty Harry sequel “Magnum Force,” as well as directing “Conan the Barabarian”and “Uncommon Valor” (the first … and best … of the “let’s plan a mission and rescue American POWs in Vietnam” films).
Since Milius was a passionate surfer, “Big Wednesday” was supposed to be his “Star Wars.” “Big Wednesday” was a rich tale of how a group of friends, who happened to surf, aged from 1962 through 1974 and how the turbulent times impacted their lives. “Big Wednesday” is the finest Hollywood film ever made about surfing and according to people who know surf culture better than I do, insist it’s the most accurate. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it’s quite good most of the time and I’ve always enjoyed it immensely over the years.
Growing up in a beach community, this movie had a HUGE impact on many of my friends when it turned up frequently on cable TV in the 1980s. It’s especially poignant seeing Jan Michael-Vincent and Gary Busey doing such stellar and athletic acting work, especially given how dark both actors’ lives would become in subsequent years.
Back in the day, many of filmmakers traded points in each others films as a sign of solidarity, meaning Milius got points in “Star Wars” and Lucas got points in “Big Wednesday.” Apparently, when “Big Wednesday” came out and was a box-office disappointment, Lucas demanded his points back that Milius had in “Star Wars.” Ah, well.
Quentin Tarantino, a huge fan of “Big Wednesday,” said: “This movie is too good for surfers.” Tarantino was allegedly bullied by surfers in his youth, but also understands a good movie better than anyone.