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)
Reviews
Popularity
2,966 ( 348)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Edit

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:

America was looking for a hero who had what it takes to become a legend. America found seven of them. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film plays down the rivalry between pilots, especially civilian (Scott Crossfield) and Air Force (Chuck Yeager). Yeager even writes in his autobiography that he thought Crossfield was arrogant, though a great pilot. See more »

Goofs

Chuck Yeager doesn't appear to age at all over the 16 year span (1947-1963) that the film covers. 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 Danger Zone: The Making of 'Top Gun' (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

A good humoured, patriotic telling of the men behind the space programme
13 July 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Following the breaking of the sound barrier by pilot Chuck Yeager, the next barrier was space. With the Russians and America in a race to see who can get there first and be highest, quickest and longest in space, a group of pilots are selected to become the first men in space for America.

I have had this film for many years and have only seen it twice now – I always get put off by having to find three + hours free to watch it! However I am a fool as whenever I do watch it the time flies by easily. Such is the appeal of the film that everything works and only the odd scene at the end drags a little. The story skips through the space programme focusing as much on the flights as it does on the men and their families. It also manages to be very light hearted and good humoured, which succeeds in making it easy and fun to watch. The history being told may not be well known by all (I'm too young to remember and am also in the UK), but it is well told and becomes more a story of the men whose courage made it happen rather than a history lesson.

Given that so much hinges on the men being interesting and likeable characters it was important to have a good cast, and the ensemble assembled here really put in good work to bring the names to life (although how close to their real personalities they are I cannot say). Taking one as an example, Fred Ward manages to be funny but also has to convey the more difficult side as he is forced to live with blame for the outcome of his mission. Shepard represents the `unsung' pilots left behind in the sky who put the space programme in motion in the first place, and he does it well with a real sense that he has a lot of men behind him. Glenn, Harris, Quaid Henriksen, Frank and Paulin all do sterling work to varying degrees. However even minor roles are played by faces who do well – Hershey is good and carries the role of `the women behind the men' really well. Moffat is funny as Lyndon Johnson and Goldblum and Shearer are hilarious with their running jokes.

The film is very flag waving – but the good humour stopped that aspect of it sticking in my throat. It is a very enjoyable and accomplished film. Not only does it manage to inform and entertain but it also paints a very good picture of the men who started and ran the space programme and the effect the risks had on them and their families. All this and it still makes me laugh out loud! Three hours simply flies by.


37 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 198 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

17 February 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Right Stuff See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,601,167, 23 October 1983

Gross USA:

$21,192,102

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,192,315
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 »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed