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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 43,126 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?


Rick Springfield turned down a role in this film so that he could star in Hard to Hold (1984) instead. Springfield has stated that he greatly regrets this decision. See more »


Yeager is attempting to re-start his NF-104 after it stalls and drops to earth. He begins to toggle switches for 1 & 2. The F-104 has only a single engine. Also a set of 3 lights alarm when the engine fails. These are actually landing gear extension lamps, only lit when the gear sets are fully extended. 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 Mystery Science Theater 3000: Prince of Space (1997) See more »


Arranged by Mark Selivan (uncredited)
Performed by the Andreyev Balalaika Ensemble
Courtesy of Monitor Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Real Heroes, And An Era That Went By All Too Fast
27 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An interesting insight into the United States' space program, beginning with the exploits of fighter pilot Chuck Yeager (Sam Shephard) and concluding with the dramatic flights of the first astronauts.

Those astronauts - the Mercury 7 pilots - are a varied group of aviators and they are all pretty interesting guys. John Glenn (Ed Harris) gets favorable treatment in here among the group. Gordon Cooper might be the wildest with the cocky and humorous Dennis Quaid playing him. Overall, it's a good cast including not just the fliers but their wives. I also enjoyed Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard and Barbara Hershey as Yeager's wife.

Yeager's feats were perhaps the most interesting and they set a fast tone to this 3-hour film as we witness him breaking several sound-barrier records prior to the formation of the astronaut team. Then we are treated to a long-but-interesting segment of how those first astronauts were trained.

The only unnecessary and ludicrous parts of this film were the ones on Lyndon Johnson, where they made him into a total fool. It was as if the screen writers had a personal vendetta against him, to make him look almost like a cartoon figure. And the bit with the Australian Aborigines smacks too much of Hollywood's love affair with tribal religions. I sincerely doubt some sparks from a fire on earth could be seen miles and miles above in space.

At any rate, this was an informative look at a period in our history than came-and-went way too fast. Sad to say, most people know very little about those first astronauts, who were true heroes. At least this film gives them their due, as well as to Yeager, who deserved this tribute, too

33 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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