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The Right Stuff (1983)

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



(written for the screen by), (based on the book by)
3,344 ( 1,799)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:


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


By flying higher and faster than any other man had ever dared before, Chuck Yeager set the pace for a new breed of hero. Those that had just one thing in common...THE RIGHT STUFF. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

17 February 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Stoff aus dem die Helden sind  »


Box Office


$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,601,167, 23 October 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the newsreel segment when President John F. Kennedy gives Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn) a medal for his flight, in the background we can see Charles Frank as Scott Carpenter. When the angle reverses to actual archival footage of President Kennedy dropping the medal, he bends to pick it up, and the real Scott Carpenter and Gus Grissom are in the background. See more »


When John Glenn's flight is scrubbed, Vice President Johnson can be seen sitting in a 1965 Lincoln limousine, yet the year is 1962. 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.
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Referenced in View from the Overlook: Crafting 'The Shining' (2007) See more »


The Wayward Wind
by Herb Newman and Stanley Lebowsky
Performed by Gogi Grant
Courtesy of K-Tel Entertainment, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

"The Right Stuff": That Is Exactly What This Film Has
4 August 2001 | by See all my reviews

Outstanding film from 1983 that was honored with four Academy Awards and is often called the second-best film of the 1980s behind only Scorsese's "Raging Bull". The movie is a 190-plus minute extravaganza which honors the U.S. Mercury 7 Astronauts. The all-star cast includes Sam Shepard (as Chuck Yeager in an Oscar-nominated role of a lifetime), Ed Harris (John Glenn), Scott Glenn (Alan Shepard), Fred Ward (Gus Grissom), Lance Henriksen (Walter Schirra), Dennis Quaid (Gordon Cooper), and Donald Moffat (Lyndon Baines Johnson). The film is solid in so many respects. It is meticulous and tries to go for drama and humor and succeeds in everything it wants to do. Veronica Cartwright, Barbara Hershey, Pamela Reed, Kathy Baker, and Mary Jo Deschanel are also along for the ride as several of the wives who attempt to keep their heads about them while they fear that their husbands are losing theirs. "The Right Stuff" is a historical lesson told in a way that is so clever and convincing that few will find fault with anything when it comes to the story-telling. Writer-director Philip Kaufman easily does the best work of his career with this masterpiece. Look for Cincinnati Bengal Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz in a cameo appearance. Arguably the best film of the 1980s and should have been the Best Picture Oscar winner over "Terms of Endearment" in 1983. 5 stars out of 5.

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