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The Right Stuff (1983)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, History  |  21 October 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 43,121 users  
Reviews: 169 user | 78 critic

The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program.



(book), (screenplay)
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Won 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Frank ...
Jack Ridley / Narrator


Tom Wolfe's book on the history of the U.S. Space program reads like a novel, and the film has that same fictional quality. It covers the breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager to the Mercury 7 astronauts, showing that no one had a clue how to run a space program or how to select people to be in it. Thrilling, funny, charming and electrifying all at once. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


America was looking for a hero who had what it takes to become a legend. America found seven of them. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 October 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Stoff aus dem die Helden sind  »

Box Office


$27,000,000 (estimated)


$21,500,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The closing narration states that Gordon Cooper was "the last American ever to go into space alone". While true when the film was made, Mike Melvill in June and September 2004 and Brian Binnie in October 2004 went into space alone in Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne (Not a NASA spaceship or spaceflight). Binnie's flight was the day Gordon Cooper died. See more »


Mis-matched shots when "real" footage is mixed with fictional as Shepard leaves the van heading for the Redstone rocket. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.
See more »


Referenced in The Wizard of Speed and Time (1988) See more »


La Bamba
Written by Ritchie Valens (uncredited)
Performed by Chubby Checker
Courtesy of Abkco Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

A movie that is as straight forward as the story it tells
15 May 2004 | by (Milwaukee, WI) – See all my reviews

`The Right Stuff' is the story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their journey through the fledgling NASA program and eventually into space. It is well-written and well-acted, featuring a veritable `Who's Who' of then slightly unknown actors such as Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn and Lance Henriksen. While it had an over three hour running time, and I actually had to get up to turn over the DVD because of its length, the pacing was such that I never once considered that any particular scene should have been shortened. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the film was the introduction of Chuck Yeager (Shepard) and his contribution to history by breaking the sound barrier, and then the periodic simultaneous comparison of the accomplishments of the astronauts and the Air Force and civilian test pilots, as well as exhibiting their eventual mutual respect.

If I had to point out any kind of glaring fault, it would have to be that they focused on some astronauts more than others – obviously concentrating heavily on the bigger names, and glossing over the `lesser-known' ones. An example would be Walter Schirra (Henriksen) – his name is mentioned a couple of times, and he probably had a tenth of the screen time of the others. Plainly, with an already three hour running time not everyone could have equal time, so this is certainly a mild criticism. `The Right Stuff' isn't profound or exceptional, but it is certainly a good and interesting film.


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