Covering some 15 years, The Right Stuff recounts the formation of America's space program, concentrating on the original Mercury astronauts. Scott Glenn plays Alan Shepard, 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), Wally Schirra (Lance Henriksen) and Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid). 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.~Hal Erickson
When TRS was released in 1983, I saw Siskel and Ebert’s laudatory joint review and thought I’d like to see it, Then it tanked at the box office and I never had the chance. In 2020 I finally picked this up and watched it in 5.1 surround sound. Whoah! The subwoofer made me feel like I was breaking the sound barrier right along with Chuck Yeager! The characters are relatively one-note and some unfortunate liberties were taken with Tom Wolfe’s book, but the performances steal the show anyway and the flight sequences are imaginatively staged—incredibly convincing. If you have any interest at all in the history of aeronautics and space flight in the US, see it. And hear it! The 3-hour-plus runtime is a bit much, but the lovely transfer, the bombastic sound (an Oscar winner for it), and the thrill of flight carries it through.
This is the perfect movie for anyone that wants to learn what the early days of space travel were like.... It's very entertaining and I would recommend this film to anyone with kids who want to be astronauts when they grow up.