|The Right Stuff
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- New Stuff
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. This 20th Anniversary two disc special edition is an immediate upgrade over the original dvd, which was one of the first films to be released in that format. The film is perfectly suited for the dvd landscape and while the picture quality was excellent on the original release, the digital transfer adds depth and scope to the film. The real bonus is the 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. The film won four Academy Awards and two were for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects and the remastered audio increases the powerful and majestic tones of the film in home viewings. The extras are great for any space program aficionados as there are interviews with the real life astronauts from the film....more info
- "There was a demon that lived in the air."
The story behind America's journey into space has always been a fascinating tale. The courage displayed by the early space pioneers cannot be understated. This select group of men placed their lives on the line for the pride of a nation and helped shape the course of space flight well into the current century. Their story has been immortalized in Philip Kaufman's "The Right Stuff."
Knowing the dangers involved with testing new experimental spacecrafts, a group of pilots chose to brave the odds in their quest to travel the stars. There are several arcs in the film that follow these pilots with the ones involving John Glenn (Ed Harris), Leroy "Gordo" Cooper Jr. (Dennis Quaid), and Virgil "Gus" Grissom (Fred Ward) being the most engaging. Each arc explores the unique contribution each man made to the space program. In addition, the film also explores how the astronauts' newfound celebrity changed their personal lives and their place within the American popular consciousness.
The triumph of "The Right Stuff" is its ability to chronicles just how difficult and dangerous a venture it was to travel beyond the Earth during the early stages of America's space program. Television and historical accounts of the early space flights typically did not show this dimension of the initial flights - we saw the rockets taking off, we glimpsed some footage of outer space, and then we saw the capsules returning back to Earth. The public never saw the blood, sweat, and tears it took to develop and implement the space vehicles and the hard decisions made by individuals who were placing their lives or the lives of others at risk. Kaufman is careful to document each link in the chain in the evolution of the space program and all its accompanying dangers. Yet, the film never loses sight of the individuals who helped humanize one of the most exciting journeys in the modern history of humankind. This balanced narrative makes "The Right Stuff" a tribute to the intrepid spirit that was behind America's space pioneers as well as a tribute to the pioneers themselves....more info
- One of the best movies of all time
this movie is one of my all time favorite movies. The Right Stuff came out in 1983 and has some of the best actors in it. this movie stars Dennis Quid, Scott Glenn, Fred Ward, Sam Shepard and Ed Harris among others. the story is about seven Astronauts and a test Pilot and is a true story of dreams, Love and hope. the seven astronauts were Grissom (Fred Ward), Glenn (Ed Harris), Carpenter, Cooper (Dennis Quid), Schirra, Slayton and shepard (Scott Glenn). Sam Shepard played the test pilot Chuck Yeager. the compassion that is pretrade in this movie by these wonderful actors is fantastic. this is basted on what really happened and these actors had to walk in these peoples shoes and tell their story of love hope and their dreams and they did a great job that you felt for them when something happened, you cry out of happiness when they achive their goals and laugh when they are goofy. what a wonderful movie....more info
This is one terrific movie and it acheives its' greatness on many different levels. Take any category, acting, directing, writing, sound, photography, costume and design, supporting acting, editing, etc, and you come up with a winner in this movie. So let's start with the acting. For several of these young actors, especially Scott Glen and Ed Harris, this was their first major introduction to the general movie-going audience and they came away as big-name actors. Theirs were only two of many great preformances. Sam Shephard got the prize role of Chuck Yeager and did a terrific job with it. The contrast between Yeager and the seven Mercury astronauts was effectively protrayed by periodically switching the focus from one to the other. This was done extremely well at the end of the movie. The point of this contrast might be debatable. To me, it showed that the heroes we are given in life are often subjectively selected. Yeager is certainly a familiar name (especially after the release of this movie). However, think of what name recognition he would have if HE were the first American to go into space.
The script, from Tom Wolfe's excellent book of the same name, is fantastic. For all of us who experienced the early days of the "space race", there is a lot of information that we never knew before. Some of the information we get tells us how "human" the astronauts were (are) and some tells us how "human" some of out leaders and directors were. Every scene is important in its' own way which is a credit to the directing and editing of this film.
There are a number of scenes where the photography is particularly stunning. Not the least of these is at the end of the movie when Yeager actually appears to enter outer space in an aircraft. The music is very impressive. There are a number of climatic scenes where the music actually gives you goosebumps.
This is a movie that all audiences can enjoy. There is plenty of history in this movie. There is also a great deal of implied flag-waving as the US vs. Soviet space race is on display. There is also a lot of heroics, action, and humor. The final scenes, as previously alluded to, are very artistically woven together. We see the glitz of fame versus the guts of anonymous individual effort. This is a real "feel good" movie. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for....more info
- Trivializing An American Adventure
Although the movie is entertaining and has a fine cast, it is flawed in many respects. The viewer who sees it will not really learn anything important about the evolution of Project Mercury. Firstly, the engineers who designed the Mercury spacecraft are presented as a bunch of Teutonic dictators indifferent to the wishes of the astronauts. In reality, Wernher von Braun's Germans were not involved in the design of the spacecraft, only its Redstone booster rocket. In reality, the astronauts worked closely with the spacecraft's manufacturer, McDonnnell Aircraft in its development. I believe that the engineers are no less heroes than than the astronauts and many sacrificed their families and even their lives as a result of overwork, yet that is completely ignored in this story. Secondly, the way Gus Grissom is portrayed is outrageous in that he is presented as some sort of screw-up causing the sinking of his spacecraft, Liberty Bell 7. The fact that, in reality, he was assigned to the first flights of both the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft (where he lost his life in the Apollo 1 fire) shows that the NASA people had the highest confidence in his abilities. They wouldn't keep someone in the program just so that it wouldn't look to the outside world that there were failures as was proven by the fact that Scott Carpenter was not assigned to another flight due to his relatively poor performance in Aurora 7. Finally, John and Annie Glenn are presented as some kind of victims of Vice President's Johnson's ire. No one did more for the space program than LBJ who was a bigger supporter than even President Kennedy was and the Glenn's were personally enriched as a result of the controversial Life magazine contract with the astronauts which Kennedy and Johnson supported. I don't believe LBJ was some sort of ogre for wanting a little media coverage and he probably wasn't aware of Annie Glenn's stutter. I would compare this film to Oliver Stone's "JFK" which is also an entertaining, but unrelated to the true story.
For someone actually interested in the TRUE story about America's space program, I would recommend the film "Apollo 13" and the series "From the Earth to the Moon"....more info
- only needed an isolated music score to be perfect
I was glad to see this come out in a special two disk edition. But since the soundtrack was never released, I was extremely disappointed that they didn't take advantage of the new edition to add an isolated music score as one of the extra features.
The latest release of Apollo 13 DVD plays the entire music score when the DVD is at Menu. The same could have been done for The Right Stuff, and soundtrack fans would FINALLY have the soundtrack available in entirety at least in DVD form, and have one more reason to purchase or upgrade the DVD version. You can get some bits of the Right Stuff soundtrack on a combo CD with music from another film, but you simply can't buy the complete soundtrack.
So it was very short-sighted decision not to include this award winning soundtrack on the DVD.
DVD makers should strongly consider the feature where the entire music score plays when the DVD is left at the menu option. It's a real bonus to soundtrack fans. And even for non-music lovers, it's a break from having the same short extract play annoyingly over and over if you are called away from a DVD that has reached the menu option.
Other than missing an isolated music score with the ability to play the soundtrack as an additional feature, this was a fine set....more info
- They were just men....or were they?
Scott Glenn, Ed Harris and Dennis Quaid are three wonderful reasons to watch this movie. Based on the book by Chuck Yeager, this movie depicts 1950's and 1960's mentality and eagerness to beat the Russians at the space race.
Sputnik scared the crud out of America, but we soon had our champions. The Mercury Seven!
The movie doesn't ooze with as much jealousy as was written in the book, but the focus of Yeager on his own accomplishments during this time really comes off as a "look at me" attempt. He was given a chance to be part of the Mercury Astronaut core and apparently turned it down. One of America's best pilots, one of its uniformed sons, denying his country's call at their most pivotal hour??? There's nothing heroic in that act.
There's plenty of heroism, however, in the storied accomplishments of the Mercury Seven. And to be fair, Yeager went on to accomplish quite alot in the field of Aviation. Either way, the story is one that is important to our nation's history. I thoroughly enjoyed it, the truth and the fiction of it. ...more info
- The Right Stuff - is a classic!
I had this movie on VHS and finally bought the DVD. Worth every penny and could watch this over and over again! ...more info
- ROUSING TRIBUTE TO ASTRONAUTS A REAL CROWD PLEASER ON DVD
"The Right Stuff" is a patriotic idealism of the space program. Through its trials and tribulations a troupe of men put themselves through a rigorous training routine to see if they have what it takes to make it into outer space. The film is full of wide-eyed optimism and flag waving get-up-and-go that really leaves you wanting to blast off from your living room.
Warner's DVD is a welcomed effort after the rather lack-luster handling of "Once Upon A Time In America". The over all image quality is smooth, with full, robust, saturated colors, deep blacks and wonderfully detailed background information. Flesh tones can appear a bit on the orange side at times but nothing that will detract from your viewing of this film. Edge enhancement and aliasing are kept to a bare minimum and pixelization is practically non-existant. The soundtrack remastering to 5.1 is an admirable effort. Though at times strident, over all dialogue is presented at a realistic listening level while sound effects, like the air plane's blasting off, is really gripping in its bass spread over all five channels of your home entertainment system. A nice job!
EXTRAS: Enough to make Sputnik jealous - documentaries, audio commentaries, trailers, interviews, a stills gallery and a retrospective on Scott Glenn. Bravo!
BOTTOM LINE: A great package of extra features, nice exterior packaging and a really great transfer make "The Right Stuff" the right DVD to add to your growing home video library!...more info
- Mercury YES, Right Stuff NO
This movie suprised everyone by NOT becoming a hit... and it was a failure because of the "film makers" who worked behind the camera on this film. The acting on this film is excellent, there are many highly tallented actors in this movie...the fact it stinks is not their fault.
This movie is NOT APOLLO 13, nor is it FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. Those are 5 star hits...largely because Tom Hanks and Ron Howard worked very very hard to keep their films ACCURATE. The true stories of the early space program are better than anything that Hollywood can produce.
Tom Wolfe's book, on which this film was based, is a wonderful read, I highly recomend it. It is filled with lyrical writing and poetic images... none of which translated well into the film.
Rather than simply tell the TRUE story of this incredible time, the "film makers" tried to capture some of Wolfe's imagery... and were about as sucessful as Custer was at Little Bighorn. They never decided if they wanted to tell the story of the space program as it REALLY was; or to turn this film about the very real men and women who worked on PROJECT MERCURY into some sort art piece full of bad lighting and mythic symbolisim...so they tried to do both...thus making a great book about truly heroic men into the sort of undirected self-indulgent mess you expect from someone in their first year of film school. As someone who was raised around the Space Program I actually found much of this movie insulting...at the climax it is impled that John Glenn's sucessful re-entry was the result NOT of the long hours put in by the hardworking people at McDonnel-Douglas who built FRIENDSHIP 7, nor the cool and calm efforts of the folks at NASA who controlled the flight, nor Glenn's (literally) ace piloting skills...no this moive implies that it was an unknown Australian aborignal witch-doctor who "chanted" Glenn home!!
The men (and now women) who had "THE RIGHT STUFF" in REAL life were serious hardworking engineers as well as being calm and unflappable test pilots. They were "steely eyed missile men", who thought logically and rationally, they LITERALLY "did the math" every day. What they DIDN'T do was wander around wallowing in self-indulgent angst about the mythcal symbolisim of what they do...they were to busy REALLY DOING IT! Apparently the "film makers" never did "GET" that key point...fortunately the much more tallented Tom Hanks and Ron Howard did, go see their work instead. Don't waste your money on this. Buy and read THE BOOK the Right Stuff- it is a fantastic first rate read! Buy FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, or APOLLO 13 on DVD if you want to see something fun and exciting and real, and if you want science fiction buy COWBOY BEBOB THE MOVIE...but this movie is NOT the "right stuff". Avoid it....more info
- The Right Stuff (Two Disc Special Addition)
I had seen the movie when it was in the theatres and enjoyed it. The product from Amazon arrived quickly and was in 100% excellent shape. The reason the rating is only 4 stars is not because of the service which was 5 stars, but the movie has many technical errors caused by 1 - Tom Wolf's book and 2 - scenes with equipment that was not around when the movie takes place. Minor stuff really.
GREAT MOVIE, The second disk was fun, but for the price the movie was what I wanted.
If your interested in the early days of the manned space program, BUY THIS MOVIE, then get a copy of the book, then read MOON SHOT and WE SEVEN.
Rick Bunn...more info
- The Right Stuff is Real
Through great casting and near-perfect screenwriting, this movie presents the transformation of the U.S. following WWII to a space exploring nation. The movie is based on a stellar book by Tom Wolfe, and the depictions of his pilots-cum-astronauts as they struggle to retain their pilot identities within the confines of training for these first probes into space ring true. Poignantly, their experiences are contrasted with those of perhaps the greatest test pilot of that generation, Chuck Yeager, who never became an astronaut....more info
- One of my all time favorites.
I have been an aviation fan for as long as I can remember. My mom thinks that my first words might have been "airport beacon". As such, I found the book version of this movie at the airport and decided to read it. I was amazed at both the history of the Mercury program and the early history of Edwards Air Force Base. Anyways, it was a very good book.
Having read the book, it was only a matter of time before I watched the movie. I was not disappointed by the movie (unusual for movies based on books). I thought it was a very well acted, directed and special effects movie. I can understand why it won two Oscars for the technical stuff. It's a shame it didn't win Best Picture. Hollywood is not known for Oscars for military related movies.
I've seen the movie several times now and I bought this when it first came out on DVD. It is cool at the beginning to hear the engines of the B-29 as Yeager goes out to break the sound barrier. It's also cool to hear the echoes as he talks in the hanger to Ridley. I wish more movies were like this one....more info
- One awsome true epic!
Even if you are not intrested in history the race to the moon against the russians,this is terriffic from start to finish.Awesome cast great effects even though this film was produced in 1983 ya cant tell.The new Two disc Special edition is great picture and sound wise.If you like adventure epics with some drama on the side buy this,forget that buy this no matter what genre ya like...more info
- Yay Astronauts!
We love anything pertaining to Space Travel. We are true fans of this movie. It is entertaining and features some of the people we have seen in many other Astronaut movies. Truly worth it!...more info
- The Right Stuff..
I really enjoyed this movie. It was cool to see movie stars when they were young......more info
- Grown-up? You bet. (Inappropriate for kids? No.)
Any reviewer who insists that this movie contains content inappropriate for "students of any age" is exaggerating. "The Right Stuff" is rated PG. Any bright pre-adolescent would understand this film; certainly any high-school student would. It contains no sexual language that a 21st-century kid would not have already heard on American broadcast TV. In fact, the astronauts in the film talk like the 1960s "squares" they were, all too unwilling to use ugly language. They speak in metaphors and euphemisms, just as ordinary men of that era did.
"The Right Stuff" is patriotic, serious, wry, funny, observant, and utterly grown-up. It accurately depicts men and women confronting adult issues of ambition, celebrity, marriage, and brotherhood. What it is NOT...is a live-action movie with a cartoon mentality, like so many films deemed appropriate for school-age children by holier-than-thou "reviewers."...more info
- Great Movie
One of my favorite movies, it shows historical fact while still being interesting and engaging. A must see for any aeronautic or space fan....more info
- The Right Stuff (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1983)-Entertaining story but had many facts wrong!.
The Right Stuff (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1983) is a fine film and very entertaining, but not a terribly accurate documentary about Project Mercury. I rate it at four stars. This version of the DVD includes a very interesting special on the shuttle flight of John Glenn in his senior years.
Much of The Right Stuff was accurate and very entertaining. However, several technical facts were just plain wrong:
1) Never was there any question about a chimp or an astronaut being first aboard a US rocket.
2) John Glenn was never going to orbit the Earth seven times and his "Go for at least seven orbits" meant that his orbital elements would support such a flight.
3) John Glenn was brought down after three orbits, just as planned.
4) The team of capsule designers was not comprised of German rocket scientists. This discussion took place with an Amercian capsule designer and probably under very different circumstances.
5) Von Braun never negotiated capsule design with John Glenn or any of the astronauts. Dr. Von Braun was a propulsion engineer and as Carpenter said during his interview, he was almost always correct.
6) Gus Grissom should not have been portraid as a "bumbling hatch blower" and was eventually cleared of all responsibility for the sinking of Liberty Bell 7. The Gus character did not give proper credit for his abilities as a test pilot or an engineer (or provide him any honor in his subsequent death aboard the Apollo 1 disaster).
- "Oh Lord, what a heavenly light!"
"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, 750 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.
"Then they built a small plane, the X-1, to try and break the Sound Barrier, and men came to the high desert of California to ride it. They were called test pilots, and no-one knew their names."
With its communal desert funerals and men riding out of the night to exchange their horses for jets, The Right Stuff's extraordinary opening places it firmly as a mythic modern western. With the West conquered and the demon in the air tamed, the new frontier is Space and the new pioneers America's first astronauts, the 'Magnificent' Mercury Seven.
Picked as much for their looks as their abilities - Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot who broke the Sound Barrier, was rejected for the programme because he didn't go to college while John Glenn was chosen because he was good on a game show - the film strips away the NASA-LIFE magazine marketing image of all-American boy-next-door heroes for one of flawed human beings overcoming the everyday to achieve extraordinary things. Real heroes rather than manufactured ones.
Yet if those around them are clowns - the neurotic double-act of recruiters Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer, Donald Moffat's Lyndon B. Johnson throwing a paddy in his car, the ex-Nazi rocket scientists singing old battle songs on lift-off - the astronauts are heroic but convincingly human figures. Surprisingly, the film also finds a lot of time for their wives, whose growing dependence on each other mirrors their husbands' camaraderie. Both male and female ensembles are excellent, but special mention must be made of Fred Ward as the ill-starred Gus Grissom and Ed Harris' upright, difficult to like Glenn.
This basis in recognisable reality adds immensely to the film's impact, although one of Kaufman's most successful notions is also his most daringly stylised: making Death a flesh-and-blood character in the film, personified by Royal Dano's black-clad minister who silently strides up to test pilot's doors to break the bad news to their widows. Even when the space program begins he can be found in the crowd, a constant spectre reminding the audience of the enormity of the odds against the first astronauts. Despite the cynicism the film has for authority - "Our German scientists are better than their German scientists" - it never forgets there's something real at stake.
More than anything else, it is full of honest wonder, where the truly special effects are the emotional ones, the film at times genuinely moving. Glenn's orbit of the Earth to the accompaniment of Henry Mancini's score from Kaufman's earlier The White Dawn is one of the screen's most magical moments, and the film's final line of dialogue carries real weight coming from the film's most flippant character. Nor does Kaufman forget the men who were left behind because they didn't fit the profile, Sam Shepherd's Yeager finally getting to touch the very heavens in the film's climax, the demon finally tamed and replaced with a heavenly light as the end of the great heroic era of solo test pilots - and the Mercury Seven were just that - comes to an end.
With much humour and some striking, unforgettable images - Royal Dano's Angel of Death glimpsed as another test pilot sets off, the sparks from an Aborigine fire seeming to summon up fireflies in space, the suited astronauts striding towards the camera in a shot that's been imitated a thousand times since, Yeager emerging from the desert haze after a plane crash - The Right Stuff is one of the great films of the eighties, and just gets better every time you see it.
Part of the last batch of epics aimed at a primarily adult audience - Reds, Ragtime, The Bounty among them - and boasting a then-massive $27m budget, this was the last big roll of the dice for the Ladd Company, which had been started with high hopes but had been badly hit by the failure of films like Blade Runner (their only significant hit was the first Police Academy. The film's box-office failure would herald the end of the startup, but not before they were reluctantly forced to infamously heavily cut Once Upon a Time in America in the US after disastrous Cannes reviews because of theatres reluctance to book another long film after The Right Stuff. Perhaps it's that lack of success that meant that the film was only available in a standard `vanilla' edition before this special edition, but the two-disc set makes amends with some good extras. The featurettes on the making of the film could be longer and it's a shame that the audio commentaries are only scene-specific rather than covering the whole film, but there are some interesting deleted scenes that were wisely omitted. The cuts show that Kaufman at one point intended to take the comedy in a more crudely comic mode, with NASA's chief scientist and Lyndon B. Johnson's cackling crosscut with cackling chimps, and even the film's stirring shot of the suited astronauts striding towards the camera undermined by the comic capers of the press corps.
The real Mercury Seven are also acknowledged in the set with archive footage, new interviews and a documentary on John Glenn as well as the theatrical trailer. All in all an impressive two-disc set for a great movie.
- Thinking of showing this movie to your classroom?
I'll save you the time....don't show it. Although this is a wonderful movie, it is inappropriate for students of any age due to sexually explicit language. There are also many words that, although not new to students by any stretch of the imagination, shouldn't be used in the classroom setting....more info
- Right Stuff
I ordered the movie The Right Stuff and I got the Right stuff at a good price. I'm satisfied....more info
- 1983: An interesting year for films...
I think if "The Right Stuff" was released in any other year, it would've won every award. Nominated for only 8 Oscars, it won 4 technical awards (Sound, Editing, Music & Sound Effects). Based on Tom Wolfe's book, which is a non-fiction account of the beginnings of America's flight/space program, I'm sure it missed on Philip Kaufman's very original take on the whole idea (hence, no nomination). Indeed, Kaufman's original screenplay and superb direction (also not nominated) kept the narrative absolutely riveting, even at 3 hours. There is nothing wrong with this film; it's as good as American film could be. Most interesting is that Kaufman's screenplay didn't have to invent characters; and they were, indeed, "characters". They were living & breathing types who were committed. I'm sure the Academy didn't know what category to put him in (like Oliver Stone's "original" screenplay for "Nixon" or the Coen Bros. (adapted?) of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", both nominated). 1983 was a year of wonderful films. "Terms of Endearment" won for best Picture, and Ingmar Bergman's "swan song", "Fanny & Alexander" won all the art awards (Cinematography, Art Direction, Costumes). It can only be the idea of the Academy that rewards must be given to the great guys; maybe a guilt trip. I remember this film being at the top of practically every "10 Best" list. Well, enough of that! The Academy has missed many times. What we have here is a film of power and interest, brilliantly conceived and beautifully photographed. The central character really has to be Chuck Yaeger (well played by nominated Sam Shepard). Ed Harris (as Glenn) made his mark, and the following year proved himself in "Places in the Heart". Barbara Hershey has always been underrated, and she's as good as they get (she was given the role only days before filming started). Indeed, the female roles are given second seat to the great male characters; Pamela Reed, Kathy Baker, Veronica Cartwright, and, especially, the great Kim Stanley. Jane Dornacker, as Nurse Murch, is a special treat. All great! There's some improvised nonsense between Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer that is wonderful and keeps the whole silliness in perspective, though these guys are dead-set on serious stuff. The interaction among these guys is smart, revealing and educational. Fred Ward and Scott Glenn are fine; I was especially taken by Dennis Quaid as Gordo Cooper, a relaxed performance. Since the film ends in 1964, I wish there was more reference to Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin) and Wally Schirra (Lance Hendrickson). This is a wonderful ensemble film, but it centered on only 5 of the 7, as well as Yeager. It is a tribute to Yeager, as he deserves it. The other guys had so much to tell. I did not want this movie to end!!! This new DVD version is WONDERFUL!...more info
- Is it really "Right" for you?
Sure, "The Right Stuff" is one of the most epic and compelling movies ever made. And the overwhelming majority of us have watched it with rapt attention...at least once, if not several times. But, in the tradition of "Why leave anything alone, when we can throw in some extras, repackage it as a "Special Edition", and persuade folks that it is worth shelling out another $20 for"...
It's not even worth discussing the movie itself, because we are all familiar with its grand tale of 7 men with "the right stuff?h and their involvement with the Mercury Program in the early 60's during the beginning of the "space race".
The two disc special edition consists of the original film on one disc (finally placed completely on one side, as opposed to the original "flipover"), and a disc of special features that were definitely lacking (missing entirely, as a matter of fact) from the original DVD release. Although it's nice to have special features as a compliment to the movie, it would be even nicer if they were as special as they could have been.
A couple of short documentaries, while not going in-depth on the making of the film, are a collection of reminiscences from cast, crew, the remaining Mercury astronauts, and Chuck Yeager. The 15 minutes of ?gextra scenes" are basically cutting room scraps, not possessing any of the details or beauty of the actual film. In many cases, the extra scenes don't even appear to fit properly into any particular spot in the film (which is probably why they were cut). There is a 25-minute section of "selected" scenes where you can hear commentary by EITHER the cast or the crew, which are actually enlightening and amusing...but the logical move would have been to include a commentary track (or 2) for the entire film. There is also a very lame "interactive timeline" for the space program...12 or so listed dates that you click on to get a 10 second video blurb or a 2 screen text description of the event. Although it?fs nice that these were included in the set, there isn't anything overly "special" about any of these features.
However... as the final special feature, there is a 90-minute PBS production on John Glenn: American Hero, which is interesting, informative, and downright attention grabbing. Incredibly well done, it focuses on the one member of the Mercury Team who has actually remained in the public spotlight for 40+ years, from his younger years, up to his return to space as part of a shuttle mission in 1998.
If you already own the original release DVD, it is probably not worth it to upgrade just for the sake of getting the special features. But, if you have never owned this classic before on DVD, it is worth every penny, and can definitely be considered the "right stuff"....more info
- The Right Stuff--2 Disc Special Edition
First, let's be clear: 'The Right Stuff' is at the top of the ol' pyramid of movies made about the true story of humans in space. Better than Apollo 13 by far. It's also one of the greatest movies ever made, period. A true modern epic. The cast is perfect--Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Scott Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Hershey, Veronica Cartwright, and Lance Henrickson (in perhaps his first role), among many others who all lend strong, top-notch support. Philip Kaufman's Directing is superior. The musical score is Bill Conti's finest--which is really saying something considering the hits he's had (Rocky, Karate Kid, etc.). And finally the story itself, based as it is on Tom Wolfe's book of the same name, is inspired. Having read the book also, I think both are well-worth looking at, and each can stand alone on its own merits.
The plot: Chuck Yeager (Shepard) breaks the sound barrier in '47, creating a whole new industry of supersonic jets and the test pilots--military and civilian--who fly them. Then the Soviets launch the first satellite, Sputnik, in a Cold War gambit, starting the space race as the United States scrambles to catch up. Hastily beginning the Mercury Space Program, the U.S. picks 7 test pilots to become its first astronauts. Scott Carpenter's (Scott Glenn) first American manned spaceflight, Gus Grissom's (Fred Ward) disasterous capsul loss, and John Glenn's (Ed Harris) inaugural orbital spaceflight all are highlighted. Along the way we are treated to a generally and brilliantly satirical (vintage Wolfe) viewpoint of the politics, training, blunders, image-making, and ambitions of the pilots, rocket scientists, and politicians involved. We also see a thoughtful exploration of the interpersonal conflicts and personal struggles that the wives of these elite pilots and astronauts endure.
Balancing these is a very serious, appropriately salutory, and heroic rendering of what, precisely, comprises 'The Right Stuff." Kaufman juxtaposes the old school test pilot, hell-for-leather, blunt-spoken, it's-the-results-that-count ethos embodied by Chuck Yeager against the new school emphasis on a more polished, politically correct, college-educated astronaut image represented by John Glenn, that began to evolve as publicity of the space race skyrocketed, and as the political stakes grew. As time passes, all glory--and funding--is given to the latter while the former is either frowned upon or simply relegated to an anachronism. Yet, as the movie points out, the 'right stuff'--that ineffable confluence of skill, knowledge, courage, and 'luck' enabling a pilot or astronaut to go up again and again and return alive against the steepest and gravest of odds--transcends education, image, mission priority, and political relevance or correcteness.
This film should have won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Shepard) in addition to the four it did win (including one for Best Score). And while it didn't receive either the awards recognition or box office turnout it warranted back in 1983, this two-disc special edition has, finally, given it the superb treatment it has always deserved. Bonus features, including several documentaries exploring the true-life astronauts (John Glenn in particular is highlighted) of the U.S. space program, are all excellent. ...more info
- all right
Warner Home Video has rereleased "The Right Stuff" in a two-disc set that packs the 3-hour-and-13-minute film onto a single disc, uninterrupted (unlike the previous Warner DVD).
The Oscar-winning sound returns in a hair-raising Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The new audio maximizes the supersonic possibilities without straying into overkill, resulting in an aural experience that's simultaneously bone-jarring and elegant. The subwoofer track maintains an even strain when not required to power up for launches.
The movie comes in widescreen only. Video is decent, but flat in some outdoor scenes. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel's beloved sunrises and sunsets look fine, as do most scenes under controlled lighting. All that silver taxpayers' metal looks sharp and focused. There is a fair amount of speckling early on, but nothing to detract from the home-video experience.
Bonus materials about the production and the space program fill the second disc, highlighted by KCET's "John Glenn: American Hero," a sensational 90-minute documentary packed with historic footage both familiar and seldom seen. Levon Helm, who narrated "The Right Stuff," returns to talk over a trio of new DVD documentaries, his voice having migrated into Chill Wills territory. Two of the docus cover the film; the other checks up on the surviving astronauts.
Most of the film's key participants roll out for interviews and reminiscences, most of them marveling at the time they had making this film. No wonder -- it's the best and most exciting drama made about the U.S. space program....more info
- The Real Stuff
The Mercury 7 astronauts were once-proud figher jocks who sold out to NASA and LBJ by volunteering to be "spam in a can" on
"flights" over which they had no control and on craft they were not allowed to maneuver. In fact, the originally designed space capsules had no windows, and Alan Shepherd had to urinate in his suit -- pee in his pants -- on the launch pad because he had no control over the launch and couldn't leave his seat. In other words, they became like circus performers who are shot from a cannon -- undoubtedly brave, but neither skillful nor pilots -- and all for the glory of hyped-up public recognition and assorted freebies.
The real pilots, the best pilots, were the test pilots, against whom the astronauts are compared throughout the movie. They were the real heroes, like Chuck Yaeger, who broke the sound barrier with a broken rib and had to close his plane's door using a sawed-off broom handle for leverage. These men flew planes, tested the edge of their skills and of their crafts, and often died trying. The best ones weren't interested in being astronauts because it wasn't "flying" and didn't really require "pilots."
The astronauts are stuffing themselves on free food and ogling fan dancers in the Houston Astrodome during a celebration LBJ put together for them for strictly political purposes. "Look what I brought you, Texas!" LBJ shouts, introducing the astronauts and, by implication, the pork of the new Houston Space Center. Grateful for the glory and bounty, the astronauts momentarily look at each other pensively as if to admit, just for a secret moment, that they aren't really hot stuff and don't deserve all this; that the best pilots, the real pilots, are still out there "pushing the edge of the envelope," unsung by the public.
For meanwhile, in a wonderful editing juxtaposition typical of this marvelous movie, Chuck Yeager flies his new experimental plane from the runway up to the far reaches of the atmosphere, achieving the near reaches of outer space, entirely on his own skills as a pilot, and loses control of his craft in the thin air. It appears he made this flight on his own say-so, on his own terms, an ability the astronauts gave up long ago for cheap public glory....more info