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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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.
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A movie that is as straight forward as the story it tells
`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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