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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.

Director:

Philip Kaufman

Writers:

Philip Kaufman (written for the screen by), Tom Wolfe (based on the book by)
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3,321 ( 234)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam Shepard ... Chuck Yeager
Scott Glenn ... Alan Shepard
Ed Harris ... John Glenn
Dennis Quaid ... Gordon Cooper
Fred Ward ... Gus Grissom
Barbara Hershey ... Glennis Yeager
Kim Stanley ... Pancho Barnes
Veronica Cartwright ... Betty Grissom
Pamela Reed ... Trudy Cooper
Scott Paulin ... Deke Slayton
Charles Frank ... Scott Carpenter
Lance Henriksen ... Wally Schirra
Donald Moffat ... Lyndon B. Johnson
Levon Helm ... Jack Ridley / Narrator
Mary Jo Deschanel ... Annie Glenn
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

17 February 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Stoff aus dem die Helden sind See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,601,167, 23 October 1983

Gross USA:

$21,192,102

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,192,102
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Ladd Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Pancho's Fly Inn was eventually subject to a forced buy-out by the Air Force as part of a plan to put in an extremely long runway. As Pancho's was within a few degrees arc of the runway it was considered to be in the way and a danger to pilots who might veer off-course. A fierce legal battle took place, with Pancho losing on the grounds of eminent domain. The 1952 fire that destroyed the place happened during the course of the legal action. Some suspected that it was lost to arson perpetuated on behalf of the commander of Edwards Air Force Base, but this was never proven. See more »

Goofs

The first external shot of "Gordo" Cooper's rocket shows the capsule with a small, round porthole. This model of the capsule in conjugation the Atlas rocket was never used in manned flights, only in early unmanned test flights. All capsules on the manned Mercury-Atlas flights had a rectangular window, as correctly shown in the next shot. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

ABC edited 5 minutes from this film for its 1986 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Planet 51 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Background Tensions
(uncredited)
Music by Paul Hamilton (pseudonym of Monia Liter) (uncredited)
Boosey & Hawkes Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
an epic film with something for everyone
20 August 2003 | by rmsmytheSee all my reviews

The Right Stuff is terrific: exciting, complex, funny, crammed with memorable scenes, unforgettable lines, and wonderful actors (many of whom went on to become big stars).

A classic shot shows a test pilot on horseback coming over a ridge stopping to look at a new rocket-plane, steadying his nervous horse as it edges past the flames coming out the back. The test pilot is the twentieth century's cowboy: tough, laconic, independent, fearless.

The Right Stuff tells two parallel stories: the (often fatal) exploits of the early test pilots and Mercury astronauts, with intersecting storylines. The movie never takes itself too seriously. Witness general crawling on the floor to plug in the projector, the sounds of the locusts when the press surrounds the astronauts (Yeager called them locusts initially), the Halleluiah Chorus during the press conference, the enema scene, Sheppard needing to take a leak in the suit, Johnson trying to deal with a housewife. Yet underneath all the fun that is poked at the astronauts we see respect for real men doing a scary, important job.

This film has all the excitement of Top Gun, but is longer, better, just as high-tech exciting, and much funnier. (A washroom scene rivals Meg Ryan's famous restaurant scene...the audience laughed so hard we all missed Cooper's next line!).

And some wonderful lines: Cooper's response to "Who's the best pilot you ever saw?", "O.K. You can be Gus", "The Military owes me", "Read'em and weep", "Hey Ridley, you got any Beemans?", "I go to church too.", "Everything is A-OK", "Our Germans are better than their Germans", "What are you two pudknockers going to have?", and, said with regret and frustration "test pilots!"

To those who have seen it, here's a challenge that will enable you to appreciate the excellent writing, the workmanship and planning that went into the script. View the movie again and see how many times the screenwriter and director took the trouble to set up a later event or comment with an earlier reference. Here are three examples: Cooper dropping a tiny toy space capsule into Grissum's drink (foreshadowing), Copper reading Life magazine before the publisher enters the movie (to make sure we viewers know that Life magazine exits), Yeager bumping his elbow on a limb of a cactus tree as he walks into Pancho's at the beginning of the movie (I never noticed this the first few times I watched the movie, but surely this tiny action was deliberate.) I count a dozen more examples. Send me ones you find.

If you haven't seen The Right Stuff, I strongly recommend you rent the DVD. -RS


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