180 user 86 critic

The Right Stuff (1983)

3:30 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $3.99 (HD) on Prime Video

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


Philip Kaufman


Philip Kaufman (written for the screen by), Tom Wolfe (based on the book by)
3,130 ( 18)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


The spectacular story of America's first astronauts. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Russian

Release Date:

17 February 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Stoff aus dem die Helden sind See more »


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:

The Ladd Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


While Fred Ward is more than eleven years older than Dennis Quaid, their characters Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper were less than a year apart in age, the two youngest of the Mercury 7. 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 »

Alternate Versions

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


Referenced in That's Showbusiness: Holiday Special (1989) See more »


Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
[Incorrectly credited as Traditional]
Arranged by Bill Conti
Heard at Lyndon Johnson's barbecue
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Unintentionally goofy, but very entertaining
15 April 2001 | by Mike Sh.See all my reviews

This is, in many ways, a very strange movie. One the one hand it deals with a very serious topic, which it seems to take very seriously. It has the overall look and feel of a drama (or even a melodrama). And yet, there are so many goofy moments in the movie that one wonders whether they were meant to be funny or not.

There was the odd, stilted dialogue, especially among the fliers and their families, as they discuss (or as the case my be, don't discuss) what it means to have the "right stuff" of the title. There are the customarily nerdy performances of Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer in small roles as NASA recruiters. There is the truly over-the-top performance of Donald Moffat as Vice President Lyndon Johnson (who was a pretty over-the-top character in real life, now that I think of it). There are the German rocket scientists, the gaunt black-clad Angel-of-Death-type minister (Royal Dano) who turns up whenever a flyer gets killed, and the throng of reporters who chase after the astronauts and their families, literally barking like a pack of dogs as they pry into the most intimate parts of their lives for the sake of another human interest story.

Even so, this movie was very entertaining. The story itself is fascinating, and the cast was great. Standouts include Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid, Veronica Cartwright, Pamela Reed, Kathy Baker, Barabara Hershey, Mary Jo Deschanel, Lance Henriksen, Levon Helm, and General Chuck Yeager himself in a cameo! It perhaps worth mentioning that most of these actors were relative unknowns when this movie came out in 1983.

All in all, this is a fun movie.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 180 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed