I am so sorry I could not work in a preview of the “Surfin' Summer” series screening at the historic Regency Lido Theatre in Newport Beach before June 29 because that morning's kick-off film, Step Into Liquid, is my favorite of the bunch. But also step out of the liquid and into John Milius' Big Wednesday at 10 a.m. on … uh … Saturday, if for no other reason than to see the pre-bat shit nuts Gary Busey.
Actually, you could say pretty much the same thing about Jan-Michael Vincent. He's Matt Johnson, Busey is Leroy Smith and William Katt is Jack Barlow, three young California surfers in the '60s with nothing on their minds but beaches, babes and waves (not necessarily in that … OK, exactly in that order).
But then along comes a little thing called the Vietnam War to mess up paradise. Perhaps you young 'uns have heard of it: it's the conflict after the one on M*A*S*H. Oh, jeez, is M*A*S*H is the show grandpa watches on Me TV. I think I just borrowed this joke from Maron.
Here's a fun local fact about Big Wednesday: one of the producers was Greg MacGillivray, who also shot the surfing sequences. The pride of Newport Harbor High went on, of course, to make award-winning, large-format, mostly nature-tinged films at the Laguna Beach production company he co-founded, MacGillivray-Freeman Films. Besides entertaining us, he and his co-horts are in the middle of a big worldwide campaign to keep our oceans clean, so future generations can have big Wednesdays, too.
Anyway, Surfin' Summer continues with: Soul Surfer (July 13); North Shore (July 20); Endless Summer (July 27); In God's Hands (Aug. 3); Chasing Mavericks (Aug. 10); Deeper Shade of Blue (Aug. 17); Ride the Wild Surf (Aug. 24); and Riding Giants (Aug. 31).
Tickets are just $7 a pop.