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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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Popularity
1,968 ( 581)
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:

How the future began. 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, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$21,500,000
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

One whimsical aspect of the film is that whenever members of the press appear in a scene, an audio track of the sound of locusts appears in the background, indicative of the "feeding frenzy" of the reporters chasing the most popular source of news stories of the day. See more »

Goofs

When Shepard is launched into space, the take-off sequence is a real Mercury-Redstone mission. But the pictures are of MR-2, the launch that put Ham the monkey into space. Shepard's mission was MR-3. 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

Spoofed in A Knight's Tale (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

I Only Have Eyes For You
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Performed by The Flamingos
Courtesy of Roulette Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Pushing the Envelope of Space!
18 November 2000 | by cariartSee all my reviews

'The Right Stuff' is one of the most glorious adventure films ever made, a story of incredible heroism, poignant romance, gripping drama, and broad humor...and amazingly, it has actually happened within our lifetimes!

This is a tale of test pilots, 'pushing the envelope', proving the sound barrier couldn't constrain mankind's reach for space. Leading the way is plain-speaking Chuck Yeager (portrayed by Sam Shepard with Gary Cooper-like charm), a Beeman's gum-chewing cowboy with a passion for his feisty wife (the beautiful Barbara Hershey), and hot planes. Not even a broken rib could hold him back when an opportunity to fly the X-1 was offered. His record-breaking flight could fill a movie by itself...and this is just the BEGINNING of the story!

Jumping ahead a few years, Yeager is joined by a new breed of test pilots, whose total love of flight challenges their relationships, and is the true measure of how they define themselves. Among them are 'Gordo' Cooper (Dennis Quaid), a hot dog jet jockey with an unhappy wife (Pamela Reed, giving an exceptional performance); and Gus Grissom (Fred Ward, in his breakthrough role), coarse and direct, and anxious for his shot at the fastest jets.

The entire world changes when the Russians launch Sputnik, in 1957. As the American space program struggles to 'catch up', the government realizes that American men will have to go into space, and President Eisenhower wants 'educated' test pilots to fill this role. Yeager is out (he never completed college), but Cooper and Grissom, and many others, compete for spots in the New Frontier.

These pilots, from all services, are weeded down to seven men, dubbed 'Astronauts', and the Mercury Space Program is born! Along with Cooper and Grissom, the story focuses on Navy pilot Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn), laconic and prone to ethnic humor; and Marine John Glenn (perfectly cast Ed Harris), a 'boy scout' of unimpeachable morals, who loyally supports an impaired wife (sensitively portrayed by Mary Jo Deschanel). Working under the glare of the world press, the seven gradually come to respect one another, and embark on an epic adventure, full of triumph and tragedy!

Meanwhile, Chuck Yeager, snubbed by NASA, continues to test new generations of jets, pushing the 'envelope', until, in a climactic scene, he achieves the threshold of space, himself. The flight is a near disaster, resulting in a horrendous crash, but the image of the burned but undefeated pilot, walking proudly away from the wreckage, is an unforgettable image of courage, and truly defines 'The Right Stuff'!

This is a REMARKABLE film in every way, and is director Philip Kaufman's masterpiece. Lushly scored by Tom Conti (who won an Oscar for the Tchaikovsky-inspired music), the film soars, both on earth and in space!

If you believe the Age of Heroes is past, watch 'The Right Stuff', and you might change your mind! This is a film to treasure!


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