Staff Report

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the big-wave film “Big Wednesday” with Denny Aaberg and the release of an updated “Big Wednesday” novel in a special event starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Aaberg, who wrote the novel with John Milius, will sign copies of the new edition, which will be available for purchase.

“I spent the last two years revising and fleshing out the original “Big Wednesday” novel, which came out in 1978,” Aaberg said. “The novel is really a story about old Malibu, its waves, and its characters, and what it was like surfing there in the 1950s and 1960s. The 40th anniversary edition … contains a lot of history and love stories that were either cut out or not included in the Warner Brothers feature film. … I believe, after years of working on it, it is the novel John Milius and I always wanted it to be.”

The evening, sponsored by The Brittingham Family Foundation, will include a series of film shorts that include footage and images that can’t be seen anywhere else, according to a museum spokesman. For example, “Little Wednesday” and “Denny’s Big Wednesday Scrapbook” feature never-before-seen images from Aaberg’s personal collection. Greg MacGillivary’s documentary “Hollywood Don’t Surf” has never been released in theaters or on DVD. Aaberg will be showing a 25-minute section of the documentary, which is about the making of “Big Wednesday.”

The program will begin with a reception featuring music by The Wrinkled Teenagers, with Aaberg, Simone Reddingius and Tony Humecke performing a set of classic 1960s surf tunes and upbeat originals.

The evening also includes:

  • “Little Wednesday,” a 10-minute Super 8 film with close-ups of the “Big Wednesday” cast and director on location in 1977.
  • “Cactus Wagon,” a 10-minute film that follows “Big Wednesday” star Jan-Michael Vincent on a surfing trip to lower Baja to heal his disappointment after the film’s initial poor showing at the box office.
  • “Hollywood Don’t Surf,” a tribute to co-screenwriter and director John Milius, including an extraordinary 25-minute sequence from MacGillivary’s documentary film about the making of “Big Wednesday.”
  • “Denny’s Big Wednesday Scrapbook,” a six-minute talk and slide show featuring never-before-seen images from Aaberg’s private collection.
  • A question and answer session with Aaberg and others.
  • Screening of the final 20-minute big-wave sequence from “Big Wednesday,” the Warner Brothers feature film.

Admission to the event will cost $25, or $15 for Maritime Museum members. The museum is at 113 Harbor Way, Suite 190, in Santa Barbara. Visit to register or call 805-962-8404 for details.