THE RIGHT STUFF has, well… “The Right Stuff.” At well over 3 hours long, it is so fast-paced and entertaining that you hardly feel the length. With a who’s who of now-famous actors and a storyline that charts the beginning days of the space program, the film is a MUST SEE epic.
Beginning shortly after World War II, we find the military eagerly trying to break the sound barrier with no success and plenty of fatalities. But that doesn’t bother maverick test pilot Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) who lives to fly and do things that other men dare not. He quickly becomes known as “the fastest man in the world,” a record he has no intention of ever letting slip through his fingers.
Word travels fast and soon scores of test pilots flock to the Air Force base to prove themselves. This includes Gus Grissom (Fred Ward) and Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid).
As the intention of the U.S government to send a man into space becomes a reality, Grissom and Cooper are handpicked to become one of the Mercury 7, which also includes John Glenn (Ed Harris), Alan Shepard (Scott Glen), Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin), Scott Carpenter (Charles Frank) and Wally Schirra (Lance Henriksen).
The film follows the first American astronaut’s recruitment, training and trips into space. But it also deals with the political landscape and the astronaut’s relationships with their wives who have to suffer in silence knowing that every day could be their husband’s last.
Written and Directed by Philip Kaufman and based on the novel by Tom Wolfe, THE RIGHT STUFF is a true American movie. With a rousing score by Bill Conti, it’s hard to find anything not to like.
It’s a shame that movies like THE RIGHT STUFF are few and far between these days. More emphasis is put of special effects than on the human stories in most modern films and we’ve come close to losing our sense of appreciation and wonder at the sheer determination of the human spirit.
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