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The Right Stuff (1983)

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3:31 | Trailer
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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Popularity
2,569 ( 759)
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:

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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the producers discouraged the cast from contacting the real people they were portraying, Dennis Quaid reached out to Gordo Cooper after learning they lived just a few miles from each other. The two became friends, and Cooper encouraged Quaid to get his pilot's license. See more »

Goofs

On the flight of Friendship 7 Glenn announces that he is traveling at 17,500 miles per hour. While it is true that this is approximately orbital velocity, the Mercury spacecraft did not have a guidance system that permitted it to measure its velocity. 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.
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Alternate Versions

When the movie premiered on American TV in May 1986 on ABC TV, during Yeager's first X-1 flight, there are several radio transmissions from Ridley to Yeager which do not appear in other versions. For example, Yeager to Ridley: "Hey, Ridley, make a note here will you. Got nuthin' better to do. Elevator effectiveness regained." Ridley to Yeager [on radio, deleted]: Yessir, that's duly noted! While Yeager is taking in the spectacle after passing Mach-1, there is only music on the VHS, DVD, etc. On the ABC TV premiere, Ridley's voice is heard clearly on the radio saying, "Say, buddy, while you're up there put in a good word for me, will ya?" Finally, when Yeager performs the barrell roll in the X-1, he can be heard on the radio shouting "Woohoo!!" in the TV premiere. Again, this is not featured in any other version of the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Valiant (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Wake Up Little Susie
Composed by Boudleaux Bryant and Felice Bryant (uncredited)
Performed by The Everly Brothers (uncredited)
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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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

17 February 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Right Stuff 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 »
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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
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