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The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff (1983)

October. 21,1983
| Adventure Drama History

As the Space Race ensues, seven pilots set off on a path to become the first American astronauts to enter space. However, the road to making history brings forth momentous challenges.


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(Flash Review)This 3hr+ movie, which won four Oscars, was about the original Mercury 7 astronauts and how they were cheery-picked from the cream of the crop pilots of the era. This was an exciting time for America and NASA as they kicked of the space program with manned flights and were neck and neck with the Russians in the space race. The movie shows how the nation's interest transitioned from upping the top speed records to launching rockets into space. This sort of felt like a documentary, which was good and bad. Lots of neat training scenes, top end planes and rocket failures to orbiting the Earth. Yet the overall pacing felt choppy and uneven. Key moments were done well, yet not knitted together smoothly. For being nominated for Best Cinematography, I felt it was sub-par. Overall a long and fascinating movie for plane and space fans.


The Right Stuff. The name alone will make anyone want to go see this. It uses enough generic pronouns and adjectives to sucker the viewer into watching this. I bet that many people had no idea it was about aviation and space travel. Is it bad to have an unclear title? Of course not. As long as it sounds good and fits in with the story. The Right Stuff fits so well with the story because that is what it is about and what it has.The Right Stuff is generally said to be the second best film of the 1980s only behind Raging Bull. I disagree, only because there were other movies that I thought were better. But I do think that The Right Stuff is one of the true great American films that achieves the status of excellence.The Right Stuff follows a group of pilots over a course of several years and their journeys as astronauts. Right off the bat, the filming of the flying is done to a high calibre. We get a first- person look during some of the missions that's intense and beautiful. This stuff happens in many different parts of the movie that can make any movie ignoramus like those particular scenes. Yes the flying sequences are first-rate, it is the character development that really makes this stand above other movies of its kind. We get to know and like some of the pilots. The first one we get to know is Chuck Yeager (Shepard) who lives a peaceful life and perseveres to break the sound barrier. He lacks a college degree, so he is not chosen to be an astronaut like some other pilots he knows. Seven pilots are chosen to compete with Russia's space program and they and their families are written very well. Alan Shepard and Gordon Cooper (Glenn, Quaid) are my favourite characters though. All their wives don't want them to go out on suicide-missions and become widows, but the men love what they do. The media attracts them, making them international superstars who believe they have " the right stuff". The men eat it up and think they are super-humans. As the movie goes on, their egos get to them and there are malfunctions with the rockets. These serve as symbols reflecting their personalities. Eventually, they get better and everything becomes a success. Hallelujah! The Right Stuff is an avant-garde, patriotic film. So cheesy how everything is overcome and they defend the honour of one's country. But I can't really say that's a bad thing. The only real flaw I can give this would be that at 193 minutes, it is dragged out, ever-so slightly.

Apu Garnesh

Way too long at over 3 hours. (But not unusual in 1983.)Sexist - wives are just stammering fools, sitting and fretting at home while their husbands go do heroic stuff. (But not unusual in 1983.)'Real heroes' with "The Right Stuff" sit in a plane or spaceship, flip some switches, and watch the nice scenery go by. Get glory and accolades if they live. And get immortalized if they die. 'Real heroes' also get their own Hollywood movie. (Not an unusual notion even today and certainly not in 1983.)Too much American patriotism bullshit. (But again, not unusual in 1983.)Altogether a worthy performance for 1983, but mostly puke-worthy today.


It's the story of the experimental pilots who would become the original Mercury 7 astronauts. It starts right after the war as these pilots push to the edge of the envelope in the Californian high desert. When the Russians launch, the government scrambles to catch up. Other military pilots join to push open the ultimate envelope.This could have been a dry historical account of what happened. However these are not just simple history book figures. These are complex human beings played by some of the great actors of that era; Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, and Fred Ward. Tom Wolfe's novel lays out the groundwork for this humanist story. The risk for the movie is the vast number of characters getting lost in the masses. The brilliance of this movie is that each actor creates his own unique performance.