Robert Redford plays Waldo Pepper, a former World War I pilot who travels around the US in the 1920s exaggerating his accomplishments in order to impress the rabble.
After a brief rivalry with air-show entrepreneur Axel Olsson (Bo Svenson), Pepper teams with Axel to barnstorm all over the Midwest.
Later, after a series of unexpected (and calamitous) events, Pepper gets a job as a movie stunt pilot. On the set, he meets the film’s technical advisor: former German ace Ernst Kessler (Bo Brundin), a man whom Pepper has been claiming falsely to have fought during the war, thereby advancing his own reputation.
He is as disillusioned with civilian life as Pepper is, and ignoring the entreaties of the film’s director, stages a genuine dogfight (sans live ammo) with his old “opponent.”
Redford effortlessly portrays Pepper’s superficial charm but lacks the depth to convey his torment. There is little substance to the movie but it is very colourful and humorous and features some highly entertaining stunts.
Kelly Jean Peters
George Roy Hill