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Big Wednesday (1978)
Music by Basil Poledouris
Big Wednesday Big Wednesday
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $14.96
Limited #: 4000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: May 2004
Catalog #: Vol. 7, No. 8
# of Discs: 1

Big Wednesday (1978) was the first major film scored by Basil Poledouris and one of the few dramatic attempts to capture the surfing ethos on film. Based on writer/director John Milius' and co-writer Denny Aaberg's youth in Southern California, it has earned a well-deserved cult reputation. Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt and Gary Busey play best friends whose carefree existence on the beach is tested by Vietnam and the responsibilities of adulthood; in the final sequence, the friends reunite for "Big Wednesday" itself, a once-a-generation convergence of wind and waves that provides their final challenge as surfers and as men.

Big Wednesday was a departure from the innocent beach movies of the 1960s, which relied upon rock and roll as their signature sound. Milius saw surfing as the final expansion of the American frontier and wanted the music to evoke timeless, mythical themes of friendship and accomplishment. He turned to his college friend (and fellow surfer) Basil Poledouris for a rich and emotional symphonic score -- launching Poledouris's Hollywood career and leading to subsequent collaborations Conan the Barbarian (1982), Red Dawn (1984), Farewell to the King (1989) and Flight of the Intruder (1991).

The Big Wednesday score features two main themes, both slightly Hawaiian in flavor: the main theme, for the mythic dimension of surfing; and the "three friends" theme, warmly evoking the bonds between the men. This latter music features the slack key guitar playing of Keola and Kapono Beamer, acclaimed Hawaiian musicians who later recorded music from Big Wednesday on one of their albums. The soundtrack ranges in scope from the simple folk performances of the Beamers to the rich and melodic strains of Poledouris's orchestra. The score climaxes with massive symphonic cues for the "Big Wednesday" surfing sequence—one of the "missing links" of symphonic scores that came in the wake of John Williams's Star Wars, and every bit as thrilling as music for outer space battles.

This premiere CD features the complete Big Wednesday underscore remixed from the original stereo multitracks, with a bonus section of alternate and source music. The booklet incorporates new interview material with Milius, Aaberg and Poledouris. It is, at last, the definitive presentation of one of the best symphonic scores of the 1970s.

Basil Poledouris Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Basil Poledouris (1945-2006) was a throwback to an earlier era, bringing his symphonic style and personal touch (masculine, with a heart) to modern-day blockbusters such as Conan the Barbarian, RoboCop and The Hunt for Red October—as well as the beloved TV mini-series, Lonesome Dove. His score to Big Wednesday (1978) for USC chum and surfing buddy John Milius treated surfers not with Beach Boys pop but like gladiators on the edge of the American frontier—launching the composer's feature career. We adored Basil and miss him terribly. IMDB

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Track List
Instruments/Musicians
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
Basil Poledouris

Violin:
Israel Baker, Harry Bluestone, Tom Buffum, Herman Clebanoff, Isabelle Daskoff, Harold Dicterow, Assa Drori, Henry Ferber, David Frisina, Irving Geller, Thelma Hanau (Beach), Clayton Haslop, William Hymanson, Nathan Kaproff, Ezra Kliger, Robert Konrad, Bernard Kundell, Kathleen Lenski, Norma Leonard, Leonard Malarsky, David Montagu, Alexander Murray, Irma W. Neumann, David L. Newman, Don Palmer, Nathan Ross, Seymour Rubinstein, Sheldon Sanov, Haim Shtrum, Paul C. Shure, Marshall Sosson, Joseph Stepansky, Lya Stern, Robert "Bob" Sushel, Dorothy M. Wade (Sushel), Tibor Zelig

Viola:
Samuel Boghossian, Richard Dickler, James F. Dunham, Pamela Goldsmith, Allan Harshman, William Hymanson, Louis Kievman, Janet Lakatos, Virginia Majewski, Gareth D. Nuttycombe, Robert Ostrowsky, Joseph Reilich, David Schwartz, Linn Subotnick, Milton Thomas

Cello:
Douglas L. Davis, Selene Depuy-Hurford, Marie Fera, Judith M. Johnson (Perett), Armand Kaproff, Roger Lebow, Carolisa Lindberg, Nellie Oliver, Frederick R. Seykora, Harry L. Shlutz, Eleanor Slatkin

Bass:
Charles C. Berghofer, Arni Egilsson, Jay Grauer, Jim Hackman, Milton Kestenbaum, Ed Meares, Peter A. Mercurio, Milton E. "Mickey" Nadel, Buell Neidlinger, Dave Parlato

Flute:
Louise M. DiTullio (Dissman), Geraldine Rotella, Sheridon W. Stokes

Oboe:
Earle D. Dumler

English Horn:
John F. Ellis

Clarinet:
Roy A. D'Antonio, Dominick Fera, Gary G. Gray, Hugo Raimondi

Bass Clarinet:
Dominick Fera, John Neufeld

Bassoon:
Don Christlieb, Norman H. Herzberg, Jack Marsh, Bob Tricarico

French Horn:
James A. Decker, Vincent N. DeRosa, David A. Duke, Robert E. Henderson, George W. Hyde, Arthur Maebe, Jr., Richard E. Perissi, Alan I. Robinson, Marilyn Robinson, Henry Sigismonti

Trumpet:
John Audino, Malcolm Boyd McNab, Uan Rasey, Thomas M. Stevens, George Werth, Graham Young

Trombone:
Mickey Gravine, Charles C. Loper, Richard "Dick" Nash, William Reichenbach, Thomas Shepard, Phillip A. Teele, Lloyd E. Ulyate

Tuba:
John T. "Tommy" Johnson

Keyboards:
Douglas Clare Fischer, Ralph E. Grierson, Mike Haug, Michael A. Lang, Bill Mays

Guitar:
Joe DiBlasi, Lee M. Ritenour, Thomas "Tommy" Tedesco

Fender (electric) Bass:
James D. Hughart

Harp:
Catherine Gotthoffer (Johnk)

Percussion:
Larry Bunker, Gary L. Coleman, Mike Englander, Alan C. Estes, Gene Paul Estes, Joe Porcaro, Emil Radocchia (Richards), Thomas D. Raney, Kenneth E. Watson, Jerry D. Williams, Robert J. Zimmitti

Contractor:
Patti Zimmitti (DeCaro)

Music Consultant:
David L. Newman

© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.