"'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 in 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 (sensitively played by Pamela Reed); and Gus Grissom (brilliantly portrayed by Fred Ward), 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 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 Sheppard (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. 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, 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, buy 'The Right Stuff', and you might change your mind! This is a film to treasure!"
The Greatest American Epic
Luis M. Ramos | Caracas, Venezuela | 06/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fact that "The Right Stuff" lost the Oscar for best picture to "Terms Of Endearment" is beyond me; this movie should have won. The fact that it wasn't a hit at the box office back in 1983 is also beyond me. We are talking about what I think it's the best American epic in all the sense of the word.
It's strange that a Venezuelan-born like me should talk about a movie like this, but I feel that "The Right Stuff" should have been a classic -well, it is for me. The story of the "Mercury" astronauts is portrayed marvelously by Philip Kaufman's direction, showcased beautifully by Caleb Deschanel's stylish photography, and supported by an incredible cast including Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Barbara Hershey, Sam Shepard, Pamela Reed, Kim Stanley, and Veronica Cartwright.
In fact, I remember when I was watching that movie at home, and my late father asked me if a man that appeared on the screen was astronaut John Glenn because he looked just like him. Of course I told him he was an actor who was playing his role. That said, it's incredible to see how Ed Harris is perfectly cast as Glenn.
And I don't want to forget one of the reasons why I love this movie, and that's Bill Conti's spectacular music score. Of course it may sound a little like Holst's "The Planets", but I usually weep every time I listen to the main theme.
I'm glad that a special edition DVD of "The Right Stuff" has been released, with fantastic extras that include new interviews with the cast and crew, deleted scenes, and an incredible documentary on John Glenn. I'm also glad about it because I think that this movie should be rightfully appreciated not only because it deals with historical events like the breaking of the sound barrier and the first American astronauts, but also because, as I said before, this is a classic."
It takes more than rocket fuel to attain escape velocity
Anthony Hinde | Sydney, Australia | 05/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Weighing in at three+ hours, "The Right Stuff" gives us a fantastic insight into the embryonic stages of humanity's journey into space. It is a personal disappointment to me that our species hasn't done more with the opportunities that space travel has given us. Based on Tom Wolfe's history of the space program, the film takes us through the early stages of American space exploration. It starts with Yeager's historic speed record when he broke the sound barrier and finishes at the end of the Mercury program. For this reason I think "Apollo 13" makes a good sequel to "The Right Stuff" as it concerns itself with the subsequent Apollo program. The cast is outstanding and they mostly offer strong performances. For much of the film Sam Shepard gets center stage in his role as Chuck Yeager. However since Yeager was never allowed the opportunity to join the space program the second half of the film focuses on the seven astronauts on the Mercury program. The leader of this group is John Glenn played extremely well by Ed Harris. The beauty of this movie is that it brings the intimidatingly immense NASA program down to a personal and therefore understandable level. We get to see the political infighting, the childish "must beat the Ruskies" mentality and the everyday fears of the astronauts. All of this is achieved without losing the heroics of the people involved. They put their lives on the line with a determined grin on their face while NASA risks its future with every launch. This is a very good movie as pure entertainment but when its educational potential is added to the equation, I would have to say that it is raised to the height of excellence. But be careful of allowing young boys to watch it, unless you want them growing up to become pilots."
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 02/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Right Stuff is Phillip Kauffman's sprawling three-hour epic about the Mercury Space Program. Based on Tom Wolfe's amazing book, the movie is a visual stunner with a top-notch ensemble cast. Sam Sheperd stands out as Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier. He portrays Yeager as a cowboy who flies jets instead of riding horses. Mr. Sheperd gives a cool and impressive performance. Ed Harris first sprang to attention with his performance of John Glenn. He gives a gentle and passionate performance and the scenes with his wife (who was hearing-impaired) are touching. Fred Ward gives a blustery and gruff performance as Gus Grissom who appears to be on the verge of cracking after his space launch goes awry. Scott Glenn adds a touch of humor to film as Alan Sheppard the first American in space. Dennis Quaid is brash and cocky as Gordo Cooper. The Right Stuff is a must DVD as its sound and picture are enhanced by the format."
One unforgivable omission.
J. Alec West | Portland, Oregon | 03/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I do not fault the filmmaker for minor conceptual and factual flaws in this film. Performances by everyone involved in the film project more than make up for them. But in my opinion, there was one unforgivable factual omission specific to the 2003 DVD release. That is why I assign 4 rather than 5 stars to this DVD release.
Dialogue within the film appears to discredit Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom's statement that he did not blow the hatch cover when the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule splashed down. When the film was first released, it made sense to include this controversy and the filmmakers themselves cannot be held at fault for doing so. But in 1999, 38 years after the splashdown and 4 years before the DVD release, Wilhelm Aerospace Engineering helped salvage the Liberty Bell 7 from its watery grave 15,000 feet beneath the sea. And while no one can say for sure what caused the hatch to blow, their website includes a photograph of the "undisturbed" hatch cover trigger, proving conclusively that Grissom was not at fault ... that, as Grissom said at the time, it must have been a technical glitch.
Because the DVD was released 4 years after Grissom's vindication, this fact should have been mentioned either prior to the film or immediately afterward so as not to cast any aspersions on the bravery of this great astronaut, who later gave his life during the tragic 1967 Apollo fire (along with his colleagues, Edward White and Roger Chaffee). And, it would have also served as a belated apology for aspersions cast in the film itself and in previous releases of the film on home video."