Right StuffDirector: Philip Kaufman, Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris
Hopes ran high that The Right Stuff, the 1981 film version of Tom Wolfe's best-selling book, would be the Numero Uno hit of the year. Covering some 15 years, the film recounts the formation of America's space program, concentrating on the original Mercury astronauts. Scott Glenn plays Alan Shepherd, the first American in space; Fred Ward is Gus Grissom, the benighted astronaut for whom nothing works out as planned; and Ed Harris is John Glenn, the straight-arrow "boy scout" of the bunch who was the first American to orbit the earth. The remaining four Mercury boys are Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin), Scott Carpenter (Charles Frank), Leroy Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), and Wally Schirra (Lance Henriksen). Wolfe's original book related in straightforward fashion the dangers and frustrations facing the astronauts (including Glenn's oft-repeated complaint that it's hard to be confident when you know that the missile you're sitting on has been built by the lowest bidder), the various personal crises involving their families (Glenn's wife Annie, a stutterer, dreads being interviewed on television, while Grissom's wife Betty, angered that her husband is not regarded as a hero because his mission was a failure, bitterly declares "I want my parade!"), and the schism between the squeaky-clean public image of the Mercury pilots and their sometimes raunchy earthbound shenanigans. While the book struck a responsive chord with the public, the film struck out on several levels. For one thing, writer/director Philip Kaufman insisted upon going for easy laughs by relying on broad caricatures, depicting Lyndon Johnson (Donald Moffat) as a tantrum-throwing buffoon and the German rocket scientists as unreconstructed Nazis. For another, the film was perceived (not without reason) as an extended campaign advertisement for John Glenn, who was about to embark upon his 1984 presidential campaign. Finally, by contriving to depict test pilot Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepherd) as the true, unsung hero of The Right Stuff (it was his risk-taking in the early 1950s that helped pave the way for the Mercury program), the film tends to minimize the very real contributions of the astronauts who benefited from Yeager's expertise. Though The Right Stuff earned several Oscar nominations, the public was cool to the film. It would take another 12 years for Ron Howard's Apollo 13 to prove that astronauts can be good box-office--provided the filmmakers don't attempt to impose their own agenda on the proceedings.
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- Warner Home Video
Cast & Crew
|Sam Shepard||Chuck Yeager|
|Scott Glenn||Alan Shepard|
|Ed Harris||John Glenn|
|Dennis Quaid||Gordon Cooper|
|Fred Ward||Gus Grissom|
|Edward Anhalt||Grand Designer|
|Mary Apick||Woman Reporter|
|Kathy Baker||Louise Shepard|
|Scott Beach||Chief Scientist|
|James Brady||Aide to Lyndon B. Johnson|
|Veronica Cartwright||Betty Grissom|
|David Clennon||Liaison Man|
|Katherine Conklin||Woman TV Rerporter|
|Mickey Crocker||Marge Slayton|
|Tom Dahlgren||Bell Aircraft Executive|
|John Dehner||Henry Luce|
|Mary Jo Deschanel||Annie Glenn|
|Jane Dornacker||Nurse Murch|
|Richard Duppell||The Permanent Press Corp|
|Bob Elross||Review Board President|
|Charles Frank||Scott Carpenter|
|William Hall||The Permanent Press Corp|
|Jim Haynie||Air Force Major|
|John X. Heart||The Permanent Press Corp|
|Levon Helm||Jack Ridley/Narrator|
|Lance Henriksen||Wally Schirra|
|Darryl Henriques||Life Reporter|
|Barbara Hershey||Glennis Yeager|
|Ed Holmes||The Permanent Press Corp|
|O-Lan Jones||Pretty Girl|
|Susan Kase||Rene Carpenter|
|Kaaren Lee||Young Widow|
|Donald Moffat||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|Scott Paulin||Deke Slayton|
|Pamela Reed||Trudy Cooper|
|William Russ||Stick Goodlin|
|John Ryan||Head of Program|
|Mittie Smith||Jo Schirra|
|Kim Stanley||Pancho Barnes|
|Scott Wilson||Scott Crossfield|
|W. Stewart Campbell||Art Director|
|Richard J. Lawrence||Art Director|
|Peter Romero||Art Director,Production Designer|
|Geoffrey Kirkland||Production Designer|
|Ned Kopp||Production Designer|
|Gene Rudolf||Production Designer|
|David Whorf||Production Designer|
|Bill Conti||Score Composer|
|Craig Edgar||Set Decoration/Design|
|Joel David Lawrence||Set Decoration/Design|
|Nick Navarro||Set Decoration/Design|
|George R. Nelson||Set Decoration/Design|
|Michael Polaire||Set Decoration/Design|
|Tom Wolfe||Source Author|
|Charles A. Myers||Asst. Director|
|Stephen A. Rotter||Editor|
|James D. Brubaker||Executive Producer|
|David MacMillan||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Jordan Belson||Special Effects|
|Gary Gutierrez||Special Effects|
|Buddy Joe Hooker||Stunts|
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Funny, compasionate, entertaining and based on actual events, this movie is a great way to spend a couple of hours. What's more, it's one of those movies that you can watch over and over again, seeing new things everytime. Most definitely not a documentary, this is an entertaining glimpse of America's first astronauts. The comment by one reviewer that this movie should be boycotted is laughable. If you do miss it, you'll be missing one of the better movies out there. What's more, as a teacher I've used this movie to get kids interested in the early days of the space program. The fact that it is enjoyable by those "hard to please" teenagers has caused many of them to do further research on their own. Don't miss it.
If you want historical accuracy go read a history book, but if you want a good movie about test pilots and the early space program then The Right Stuff is it. There is obviously no intent on the part of the producer to give a day by day account of the 15 year span covered in the movie but it does touch on historical occurances and glamourize them so that they are entertaining to the viewer. The bottom line is that the movie is great and well worth it as long as you don't take it as a historical documentary. Great acting and spectacular reproduced flying scenes of the Bell X-1, X-1A and the NF-104 Starfighter.
I love the movie. As inaccurate as it may be, the flying sequences are fun, the actors play well off each other and John Glenn is my hero in real life. It's a movie, for heaven's sake, and must be taken as such. I also liked Apollo 13 and Top Gun (SUPER flight scenes!), each for their own reason.
A reviewer here suggested to "boycott" this film.. Are you crazy? This is a fantastic film in which REAL heroes are placed in the context of history. These Mercury pioneers and test pilots paved the way to the moon and shows what is possible with the human spirit. I read the Wolfe book and was very impressed that it's a pretty faithful interpretation to that work. If you're into the space program, watch this film. Excellent.
Some reviewers let the inaccuracies get in the way of their enjoyment. Many (not all) of the events occurred pretty much as portrayed, as verified by other sources. The US space program is a great story on its own -- the pretty accurate HBO "From the Earth to the Moon" miniseries proves that. In The Right Stuff, time lines have certainly been manipulated, yes. Were incidents punched up and dramatized? Sure. Get over it.
This has never claimed to be a documentary. This is about motivation, sacrifice and acheivement. In the end governments may enable, but people achieve.You either have the right stuff for the job, or you don't. If you have to have it defined for you, you probably don't have it. This applies to ANY calling.
Add in a great script, incredible (for the 80s) visuals and Conti's soaring score, and you have what is easily one of the best movies ever made.
Relax, watch this movie and be inspired.
Let those who just don't have the right stuff miss the point and pick the nits.
I think this is an excellent film. Although i haven't read the book i do know a lot about the US space program and project Mercury(i have read the book Moonshot). The film is quite accurate- especially the first half with Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier. Although it may not be 100% factual it is highly entertaining(i've seen it 5 times)and i recommend it to anyone interested in spaceflight!
I love this movie and have watched it several times. Like a lot of movies, it is based on facts but filled with fiction. This film is timeless and great entertainment for the entire family. The movie gives you a sense of the struggles that occurred at the beginning of the space program and the risks that men took to advance technology. This technology has help create the world we live in today. I would recommend this film to everyone.
If you want to watch this film, please beware if you repeat any of the occurrences in it as fact, you will run the risk of looking completely stupid in front of your peers. This film is infamous amongst the experts of space history as being a sickening massacre of the truth. I have to wonder what motive, or bitterness over ones personal failure would lead to such an intentful dishonor of admirable men? I may never know, but boycotting this film could certainly not be a bad idea.