Review: ‘The Right Stuff’

The Right Stuff is a humdinger. Full of beauty, intelligence and excitement, this big-scale look at the development of the US space program and its pioneering aviators provides a fresh, entertaining look back at the recent past. Film version of Tom Wolfe's best selling revisionist history was some three years in the making.

The Right Stuff is a humdinger. Full of beauty, intelligence and excitement, this big-scale look at the development of the US space program and its pioneering aviators provides a fresh, entertaining look back at the recent past. Film version of Tom Wolfe’s best selling revisionist history was some three years in the making.

Tale spans 16 years, from ace test pilot Chuck Yeager’s breaking of the sound barrier over the California desert to Vice-President Johnson’s welcoming of the astronauts to their new home in Houston with an enormous barbecue inside the Astrodome. Telling takes over three hours, but it goes by lickity-split under Philip Kaufman’s direction and is probably the shortest-seeming film of its length ever made.

Emblematic figure here is Yeager, played by a taciturn Sam Shepard. As the ace of aces who was passed by for astronaut training due to his lack of college degree, Yeager, for Kaufman as for Wolfe, is the embodiment of ‘the right stuff’, that ineffable quality which separates the men from the boys, so to speak.

1983: Best Original Score, Editing, Sound (Mark Berger Tom Scott, Randy Thom, David MacMillan), Sound Editing.

Nominations: Best Picture, Supp. Actor (Sam Shepard), Cinematography, Art Direction

The Right Stuff

Production

Ladd Company. Director Philip Kaufman; Producer Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff; Screenplay Philip Kaufman; Camera Caleb Deschanel; Editor Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman, Stephen A. Rotter, Douglas Stewart, Tom Rolf; Music Bill Conti; Art Director Geoffrey Kirkland

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 193 MIN.

With

Sam Shepard Scott Glenn Ed Harris Dennis Quaid Fred Ward Barbara Hershey

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