The time was the late 1940s. World War II had just ended and the United States was entering into a new kind of war, a Cold War. New technology and the development of high-speed aircraft became one of the centerpieces of this new kind of conflict. The race to space between the United States and the Soviet Union had just begun. Adapted from Tom Wolfe's best-selling book, The Right Stuff tells the heroic story of Chuck Yeager (the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound), the Flying Fraternity and the Mercury Astronauts – the first Americans in space. The bravery and daring exploits of these men captured the imagination of the American public during the 1940s and 1950s,and The Right Stuff re-creates these breathtaking events in emotionally riveting and suspenseful detail.]]>
The Right Stuff (30th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
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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.
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!Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Long time favorite and physical quality of the disk and case were fine.Published 6 days ago by Careful Shopper
I had to watch this movie for a Film class and I ended up liking it so much because they explain the beginning of the space age as well as the competition to become these elite... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Arch
Good movie. My husband reaaly loves this one. Based on a true story.Published 14 days ago by Patti Day
One of the Greatest Movies ever made, on America's Early Space Program... America Astronaut's "LETS Light THIS CANDLE" Fly Boys!!! Read morePublished 17 days ago by Rodney
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