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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1,024 ( 1,716)
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

The film's opening and closing narration ("There was a demon that lived in the air...") is provided by Levon Helm, who plays Jack Ridley, Chuck Yeager's technician. Although the film gives the impression that Ridley was only a mechanic, in real-life, Ridley was a full-fledged aeronautical engineer who made significant design contributions and corrections to many early supersonic aircraft. Yeager often called him "the brains behind the whole X-1 test program." See more »

Goofs

As the B-29 carrying Yeager and the X-1 taxis as it prepares to take off and launch the X-1, a Beech T-34 can be seen in the background. The scene takes place on October 14th, 1947, but the first flight of the T-34 wasn't until December 2nd, 1948. 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

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

Connections

Spoofed in Zoom (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Mars, Jupiter, & Neptune
(from "The Planets")
Composed by Gustav Holst (uncredited)
Performed by Boston Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Seiji Ozawa
Courtesy of Philips Records, a division of Polygram Classics, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Real Heroes, And An Era That Went By All Too Fast
27 May 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See 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


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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:

$21,192,315
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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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