Stars: Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Quaid, Ed Harris
Genre: Adventure, Drama, History
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 193 minutes
Philip Kaufman's intimate epic about the Mercury astronauts (based on Tom Wolfe's book) was one of the most ambitious and spectacularly exciting movies of the 1980s. It surprised almost everybody by not becoming a smash hit. By all rights, the film should have been every bit the success that Apollo 13 would later become; The Right Stuff is not only just as thrilling, but it is also a bigger and better movie. Combining history (both established and revisionist), grand mythmaking (and myth puncturing), adventure, melodrama, behind-the-scenes dish, spectacular visuals, and a down-to-earth sense of humor, The Right Stuff chronicles NASA's efforts to put a man in orbit. Such an achievement would be the first step toward President Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon, and, perhaps most important of all, would win a crucial public relations/morale victory over the Soviets, who had delivered a stunning blow to American pride by launching Sputnik, the first satellite. The movie contrasts the daring feats of the unsung test pilots--one of whom, Chuck Yeager, embodied more than anyone else the skill and spirit of Wolfe's title--against the heavily publicized (and sanitized) accomplishments of the Mercury astronauts. Through no fault of their own, the spacemen became prisoners of the heroic images the government created for them in order to capture the public's imagination. The casting is inspired; the film features Sam Shepard as the legendary Yeager, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Dennis Quaid as "Gordo" Cooper, Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard, Fred Ward as Gus Grissom, Scott Wilson as Scott Crossfield, and Pamela Reed and Veronica Cartwright are superb in their thankless roles as astronauts' wives. --Jim Emerson
There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.
Hey, Ridley, make another note here, would ya? Must be something wrong with this ol' Mach meter. Jumped plumb off the scale. Gone kinda screwy on me.
You go ahead and bust it, we'll fix it. Personally, I think you're seein' things.
Yeah, could be. But I'm still goin' upstairs like a bat outta hell.
What are you two rookies gonna have?
Rookies? Now hold on, sis. You are looking at a whole new ballgame here now. In fact, in a couple of years, I bet you're even gonna immortalize us by putting our pictures up there on your wall.
What? I say somethin' wrong here?
I tell you, we got two categories of pilots around here. We got your prime pilots that get all the hot planes, and we got your pud-knockers who dream about getting the hot planes. Now what are you two pud-knockers gonna have? Huh?
We could launch a pod.
A POD - a, uh, capsule. Now, we would be in full control of zis pod. It vill go up like a cannonball, and come down like, uh, a cannonball, splashing down into ze water, the ocean, vith a parachute to spare the life of the specimen inside.
Well, what kind of spe-ci-men?
A tough one. Responsive to orders. I had in mind a jimp.
JIMP? Well what the HELL is a jimp?
A jimp. A-a-a jimpanzee, Senator. An ape.
Game Show MC:
Major, Eddie here has a little problem with his girlfriend. Did you ever have a problem like that when you were 10?
Yes, I did, Bob. I liked a girl in my class, but all the other guys liked her too and she didn't pay any attention. But, I kept after her, Eddie.
Game Show MC:
Did you finally get her to notice you?
Yes, I did. In fact, I finally got her to marry me.
Annie, listen to me, OK? You listening? If you don't want the Vice President or the TV networks or anybody else to come into the house, then that's it, as far as I'm concerned. They are NOT coming in, and I will back you all the way, a hundred percent on this. And you tell them that, OK? I don't want Johnson or any of the rest of them to set as much as one TOE inside our house.
You tell them that- that Astronaut John Glenn told you to say that.
You know, gus. I'm sitting here, people wanting to talk to me, I got a free house, free furniture, free lunch from one end of the country to the other and I ain't even been up there yet.
Yeah, I noticed that.
Oh, you noticed that, did you?
Well, Hot Dog, when they do send you up; be sure *you* don't screw the pooch.