The Right Stuff


3h 13m 1983
The Right Stuff

Brief Synopsis

The first astronauts fight for their place in space.

Film Details

Also Known As
Right Stuff, Rätta virket, étoffe des héros
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Historical
Biography
Period
Release Date
1983

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 13m

Synopsis

NASA recruits seven test pilots, training them to become astronauts for the Mercury Space Program in an attempt to surpass the Russian space program.

Crew

C J Appel

Adr Editor

Joey Bacow

Production Assistant

Stewart Barbee

Photography

Ted Bear

Researcher

Jim Beebe

Photography

Jordan Belson

Visual Effects

Louis Benioff

Assistant Editor

B Benjamin

Song

Steph Benseman

Other

John Benson

Sound Effects Editor

Mark Berger

Sound

Karen Bergman

Stock Footage

Bumps Blackwell

Song

Jay Boekelheide

Sound Editor

Todd Boekelheide

Sound

Todd Boekelheide

Music

Zac Bogart

Motion Control

Gloria S Borders

Stock Footage

Karen Bradley

Makeup

Kevin Breslin

Production Assistant

William Browder

Costumes

James D. Brubaker

Production Manager

James D. Brubaker

Executive Producer

Valerie Bryce

Sound

Bill Buttfield

Visual Effects

Dell Byrne

Stock Footage

W Stewart Campbell

Art Director

David Carothers

Visual Effects

Robert Chartoff

Producer

Chubby Checker

Song Performer

Catherine Childers

Hair

Ted Churchill

Steadicam Operator

Martha Cohen

Production Assistant

Bill Conti

Music

Robert Crawford

Song

Susan Crutcher

Music

Dan Curry

Titles

J Yvonne Curry

Makeup

Paul Dal Parto

Props

Joel David

Set Designer

Ray De La Motte

Camera Operator

Rande Deluca

Stunts

Craig Denault

Camera Operator

Caleb Deschanel

Director Of Photography

Caleb Deschanel

Dp/Cinematographer

Alan Disler

Assistant Camera Operator

Don Dow

Photography

Craig Edgar

Set Designer

Rory Enke

Other

Jonathan Fairbanks

Production Assistant

John V. Fante

Photography

Glenn Farr

Editor

Rick Fichter

Photography

Lisa Fruchtman

Editor

Bruce Geller

Hair

Nancy Giebink

Assistant Director

Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam

Sound Editor

Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam

Dialogue Editor

Gogi Grant

Song Performer

Whitney Green

Production Manager

Pat Grover

Hair

Gary Gutierrez

Visual Effects Supervisor

Jonathan Gutteres

Key Grip

Dr. Richard P Hallion

Researcher

George Frederick Handel

Music

Donald Hansard

Camera Coordinator

Donald R Hansard

Photography

Carry Heflin

Stock Footage

Karl Herrmann

Photography

Tim Holland

Sound Effects Editor

Jena Holman

Visual Effects Supervisor

Gustav Holst

Music

Buddy Joe Hooker

Stunt Coordinator

Stephen A Hope

Sound Editor

Vaughn Horton

Song

Toni Howard

Casting

Garth Hudson

Music

Richard Hymns

Dialogue Editor

Pat Jackson

Sound Effects Editor

B D Johnson

Stunts

L Dean Jones

Assistant Director

Philip Kaufman

Screenplay

Pee Wee King

Song

Geoffrey Kirkland

Production Designer

Peter Kleinow

Visual Effects

Ned Kopp

Unit Production Manager

Alex Kramer

Song

Clay Lacy

Stunts

Michael Lawler

Photography

Richard J Lawrence

Art Director

Stan Lebowsky

Song

Little Richard

Song Performer

Victor Livinoston

Assistant Editor

Jimmy Lloyd

Song Performer

J Logsdon

Song

Michael Looney

Assistant Director

Robert Evans Lowy

Production Assistant

R B Macmillan

Sound

Louis Mahler

Video

Jill Maley

Costumes

Henry Mancini

Song

Henry Mancini

Music Conductor

Sharon Mann

Assistant Director

John Marascalco

Song

Robert Marty

Sound

Harry Mathias

Steadicam Operator

Jo Ann May-pavey

Production Coordinator

V Mcalpin

Song

Barbara Mcbane

Dialogue Consultant

Ned Mcclean

Camera Operator

Ed Milkovich

Assistant Director

Frank Morelli

Visual Effects

Thaine Morris

Pyrotechnics

Paul Murphey

Video

Charles Myers

Assistant Director

John Napolitano

Costumes

Hiro Narita

Camera Operator

Lawrence Nicanor Navarro

Set Designer

William Neil

Photography

George R. Nelson

Set Decorator

Herb Newman

Song

Genaro Nunez

Music Arranger

Nancy Olexo

Researcher

Seiji Ozawa

Music Conductor

Patti Page

Song Performer

David Parker

Sound

David Parker

Sound Effects

Stan Parks

Special Effects Foreman

Phil Pastuhov

Stunts

Forrest G Patten

Music

Diana Pellegrini

Foley Editor

Pat Pending

Set Decorator

Kenneth Pepiot

Special Effects Supervisor

Rick Perkins

Mechanical Special Effects

Emily Perry

Props

Dave Pier

Special Effects

Gary Platek

Researcher

Michael Polaire

Location Manager

Larry Powell

Unit Production Manager

Patrick Ranahan

Other

Bruce Richardson

Visual Effects

Carl Richter

Music Conductor

Tom Rolf

Editor

Peter Romero

Art Director

Stephen Rotter

Editor

Tom Ruddock

Visual Effects

Gene Rudolf

Consultant

Art Scholl

Stunts

Art Scholl

Photography

David Schwartz

Visual Effects

Thomas Scott

Sound

Mark Selivan

Music Arranger

Lynn Stalmaster

Casting

Del Stane

Stock Footage

Kay Starr

Song Performer

Mark A. Stetson

Visual Effects

Douglas Stewart

Editor

Redd Stewart

Song

Joseph Leonard Svec

Stunts

Zuzana Swansea

Visual Effects

Seiichi Tanaka

Song Performer

Seiichi Tanaka

Song

John Teton

Creative Consultant

The Flamingos

Song Performer

Randy Thom

Sound

Dennie Thorpe

Foley Artist

Alice Tompkins

Script Supervisor

James W. Tyson

Costume Supervisor

Ritchie Valens

Song

Dan Wallin

Sound

Harry Warren

Song

G D Weiss

Song

Margaret Whiting

Song Performer

Joan Whitney

Song

David Whorf

Unit Production Manager

Winnie Brown Willis

Costumes

Bob Wills

Song Performer

Duncan Wilmore

Technical Advisor

Karen Wilson

Sound Effects Editor

Irwin Winkler

Producer

Andy Wiskes

Sound

Tom Wolfe

Book As Source Material

Chuck Yeager

Consultant

Photo Collections

The Right Stuff - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from The Right Stuff (1983), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Videos

Movie Clip

Right Stuff, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) Did I Ever Let You Down? The first vignette with the first future astronaut, Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid) and wife Trudy (Pamela Reed) arriving Edwards Air Force Base, 1953, in The Right Stuff, 1983, from the Tom Wolfe book.
Right Stuff, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) That Guy! Watching Ed Sullivan during their mostly comic astronaut recruiting trip, the government guys (Harry Shearer and Jeff Goldblum) meet Marine pilot John Glenn (Ed Harris) and Navy flier Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn), in Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuf, 1983.
Right Stuff, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) No Buck Rogers Ensemble scene, the Mercury astronauts (Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Scott Paulin, Charles Frank, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard) confront the chief scientist (Scott Beach) about their capsule, in Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff, 1983.
Right Stuff, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) What's That Sound? Dropped from a B-29, Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) piloting the X1, in director Philip Kaufman's dramatization of the official breaking of the sound barrier, October 1947, Yeager's wife (Barbara Hershey) and pals (William Russ, Kim Stanley) observing, early in The Right Stuff, 1983.
Right Stuff, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) Archie And Jughead Early in the astronaut selection process, the head nurse (Jane Dornacker) instructs the trainees (Dennis Quaid, Lance Henriksen, Scott Paulin, Fred Ward, Scott Glenn and last, Charles Frank and Ed Harris) in a lung capacity test, in Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff, 1983.

Film Details

Also Known As
Right Stuff, Rätta virket, étoffe des héros
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Historical
Biography
Period
Release Date
1983

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 13m

Award Wins

Best Editing

1983
Glenn Farr

Best Editing

1983
Lisa Fruchtman

Best Editing

1983
Tom Rolf

Best Editing

1983
Stephen A Rotter

Best Editing

1983
Douglas Stewart

Best Score

1983

Best Sound

1983

Best Sound Effects Sound Editing

1983

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1983
Geoffrey Kirkland

Best Cinematography

1983

Best Picture

1983

Best Supporting Actor

1983
Sam Shepard

Articles

The Right Stuff


Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff (1983), a sarcastic adaptation of Tom Wolfe's equally sarcastic novel about the Mercury space program, is one of the more under-appreciated, misunderstood films of the 1980s. This often cartoonish expose on square-jawed machismo pokes broad fun at America's obsession with heroics while simultaneously celebrating the allure of testosterone-driven fearlessness. Kaufman's superlative cast never wavers from the movie's tricky tone, and the otherworldly special effects by Gary Gutierrez and Jordan Belson are nothing short of stunning.

If there's a real star of this sprawling piece of work, it's the title prototype, that certain something that enables a man to stare death in the eye while riding a roaring piece of machinery to the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The pilots and astronauts who possess this quality never talk about it- they just get the job done, precisely and stoically. The first part of the movie follows the cowboyish Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard), as he romances his wife (Barbara Hershey) and ignores the deaths of his test pilot co-horts on the way to becoming the first man to break the sound barrier. Yeager, however, is deemed unsuitable for the space program(!), so he's left behind in the desert while less-accomplished (and, the government hopes, more cooperative) pilots are invited to train for eventual missions in space.

Just the thought of what the Mercury astronauts might do is enough to create a media frenzy. They're treated as heroes before they ever climb into a capsule, and they're fully aware of the irony. Kaufman mainly focuses on John Glenn (Ed Harris), Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), Gus Grissom (Fred Ward), and Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn.) But Wolfe, much to his credit, recognized the importance of the astronaut's wives in this story. They, after all, display a different kind of stoicism, waiting at home for possible news that their husbands have perished in a ball of flame. Pamela Reed, as Gordon Cooper's quietly amused wife, Trudy, is one of the genuine standouts of this fine cast. (Glenn's wife, Annie, is played by Mary Jo Deschanel, the real-life wife of Kaufman's brilliant cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel.)

The narrative jumps back and forth between the astronauts training for their flights, then soaring into space, and Yeager maintaining his dignity while far less accomplished pilots and, at one point, a chimpanzee - are trumpeted around the world for their daring. Still, even with the smart-alecky attitude, Kaufman gives the astronauts their due. Glenn, in particular, is lauded for the bravery involved in his mission. His capsule's re-entry into the atmosphere is an electrifying highlight.

At first glance, The Right Stuff may look like just another patriotic epic, but don't be fooled. It's a truly unique picture. Kaufman seems more interested in examining how we perceive our heroes than he is in painting a realistic portrait of the pilots and politicians who teamed up to send men into space. When the movie was originally released back in 1983, most people, caught up as they were in Ronald Reagan's candy-coated view of America, didn't know what to make of it.

The Right Stuff went through an extensive, fairly painful gestation period, as detailed in screenwriter William Goldman's popular book, Adventures in the Screen Trade. Goldman, who also wrote Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976), argued that Yeager's story should be dumped in favor of focusing solely on the astronauts. Kaufman strongly disagreed and ended up writing his own adaptation of the novel. It's debatable who was right in this standoff, which Goldman termed "a nightmare." Kaufman's story does seem rather disjointed, but Yeager's chase of the elusive sound barrier contains some incredibly thrilling sequences, and his courage stands as a working definition of "The Right Stuff." What the movie loses in steam, it gains in impact through the inclusion of his exploits.

Kaufman also played fast and loose with his casting. Shepard was better known as an award-winning playwright - Harris, as a matter of fact, made a big splash in 1983 in Shepard's play, True West - when he was signed on for the pivotal role of Yeager. (You should also keep an eye open for a cameo by the real Yeager, as a bartender who offers Shepard a shot of whiskey.) Jack Ridley, Yeager's partner-in-crime, both in the air and on the ground, is played by Levon Helm, the drummer for the profoundly influential rock band, The Band. Helm and Shepard traveled in the same circles long before this movie was made. Levon played drums behind Bob Dylan during a couple of legendary 1970s tours, and Shepard was a part of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, in 1975. He, too, played the drums.

Somewhat oddly, when you consider how playfully audacious it is, The Right Stuff's initial notoriety hinged on Kaufman's treatment of John Glenn. Glenn, who was then a straight-arrow senator from the state of Ohio, was pursuing the presidency when the picture debuted. Many people thought it would give him an unfair advantage in the campaign, but it didn't help much: he was basically trounced in the primaries, just as the film was at the box office.

Directed by: Philip Kaufman
Screenplay: Philip Kaufman (based on the book by Tom Wolfe)
Producer: Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler Cinematography: Caleb Deschanel
Editing: Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman, Stephen A. Rotter, Douglas Stewart, and Tom Rolf
Music: Bill Conti Production Design: Geoffrey Kirkland
Art Design: Richard Lawrence, W. Stewart Campbell, and Peter R. Romero Special Effects: Gary Gutierrez and Jordan Belson Principal Cast: Sam Shepard (Chuck Yeager), Scott Glenn (Alan Shepard), Ed Harris (John Glenn), Dennis Quaid (Gordon Cooper), Fred Ward (Gus Grissom), Barbara Hershey (Glennis Yeager), Veronica Cartwright (Betty Grissom), Pamela Reed (Trudy Cooper), Lance Henriksen (Wally Schirra), Donald Moffat (Lyndon B. Johnson), Levon Helm (Jack Ridley), Mary Jo Deschanel (Annie Glenn).
C-193m. Letterboxed.

by Paul Tatara

The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff

Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff (1983), a sarcastic adaptation of Tom Wolfe's equally sarcastic novel about the Mercury space program, is one of the more under-appreciated, misunderstood films of the 1980s. This often cartoonish expose on square-jawed machismo pokes broad fun at America's obsession with heroics while simultaneously celebrating the allure of testosterone-driven fearlessness. Kaufman's superlative cast never wavers from the movie's tricky tone, and the otherworldly special effects by Gary Gutierrez and Jordan Belson are nothing short of stunning. If there's a real star of this sprawling piece of work, it's the title prototype, that certain something that enables a man to stare death in the eye while riding a roaring piece of machinery to the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The pilots and astronauts who possess this quality never talk about it- they just get the job done, precisely and stoically. The first part of the movie follows the cowboyish Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard), as he romances his wife (Barbara Hershey) and ignores the deaths of his test pilot co-horts on the way to becoming the first man to break the sound barrier. Yeager, however, is deemed unsuitable for the space program(!), so he's left behind in the desert while less-accomplished (and, the government hopes, more cooperative) pilots are invited to train for eventual missions in space. Just the thought of what the Mercury astronauts might do is enough to create a media frenzy. They're treated as heroes before they ever climb into a capsule, and they're fully aware of the irony. Kaufman mainly focuses on John Glenn (Ed Harris), Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), Gus Grissom (Fred Ward), and Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn.) But Wolfe, much to his credit, recognized the importance of the astronaut's wives in this story. They, after all, display a different kind of stoicism, waiting at home for possible news that their husbands have perished in a ball of flame. Pamela Reed, as Gordon Cooper's quietly amused wife, Trudy, is one of the genuine standouts of this fine cast. (Glenn's wife, Annie, is played by Mary Jo Deschanel, the real-life wife of Kaufman's brilliant cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel.) The narrative jumps back and forth between the astronauts training for their flights, then soaring into space, and Yeager maintaining his dignity while far less accomplished pilots and, at one point, a chimpanzee - are trumpeted around the world for their daring. Still, even with the smart-alecky attitude, Kaufman gives the astronauts their due. Glenn, in particular, is lauded for the bravery involved in his mission. His capsule's re-entry into the atmosphere is an electrifying highlight. At first glance, The Right Stuff may look like just another patriotic epic, but don't be fooled. It's a truly unique picture. Kaufman seems more interested in examining how we perceive our heroes than he is in painting a realistic portrait of the pilots and politicians who teamed up to send men into space. When the movie was originally released back in 1983, most people, caught up as they were in Ronald Reagan's candy-coated view of America, didn't know what to make of it. The Right Stuff went through an extensive, fairly painful gestation period, as detailed in screenwriter William Goldman's popular book, Adventures in the Screen Trade. Goldman, who also wrote Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976), argued that Yeager's story should be dumped in favor of focusing solely on the astronauts. Kaufman strongly disagreed and ended up writing his own adaptation of the novel. It's debatable who was right in this standoff, which Goldman termed "a nightmare." Kaufman's story does seem rather disjointed, but Yeager's chase of the elusive sound barrier contains some incredibly thrilling sequences, and his courage stands as a working definition of "The Right Stuff." What the movie loses in steam, it gains in impact through the inclusion of his exploits. Kaufman also played fast and loose with his casting. Shepard was better known as an award-winning playwright - Harris, as a matter of fact, made a big splash in 1983 in Shepard's play, True West - when he was signed on for the pivotal role of Yeager. (You should also keep an eye open for a cameo by the real Yeager, as a bartender who offers Shepard a shot of whiskey.) Jack Ridley, Yeager's partner-in-crime, both in the air and on the ground, is played by Levon Helm, the drummer for the profoundly influential rock band, The Band. Helm and Shepard traveled in the same circles long before this movie was made. Levon played drums behind Bob Dylan during a couple of legendary 1970s tours, and Shepard was a part of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, in 1975. He, too, played the drums. Somewhat oddly, when you consider how playfully audacious it is, The Right Stuff's initial notoriety hinged on Kaufman's treatment of John Glenn. Glenn, who was then a straight-arrow senator from the state of Ohio, was pursuing the presidency when the picture debuted. Many people thought it would give him an unfair advantage in the campaign, but it didn't help much: he was basically trounced in the primaries, just as the film was at the box office. Directed by: Philip Kaufman Screenplay: Philip Kaufman (based on the book by Tom Wolfe) Producer: Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler Cinematography: Caleb Deschanel Editing: Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman, Stephen A. Rotter, Douglas Stewart, and Tom Rolf Music: Bill Conti Production Design: Geoffrey Kirkland Art Design: Richard Lawrence, W. Stewart Campbell, and Peter R. Romero Special Effects: Gary Gutierrez and Jordan Belson Principal Cast: Sam Shepard (Chuck Yeager), Scott Glenn (Alan Shepard), Ed Harris (John Glenn), Dennis Quaid (Gordon Cooper), Fred Ward (Gus Grissom), Barbara Hershey (Glennis Yeager), Veronica Cartwright (Betty Grissom), Pamela Reed (Trudy Cooper), Lance Henriksen (Wally Schirra), Donald Moffat (Lyndon B. Johnson), Levon Helm (Jack Ridley), Mary Jo Deschanel (Annie Glenn). C-193m. Letterboxed. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 21, 1983

Released in United States October 2000

Released in United States May 2003

Shown at Tribeca Film Festival (Special Screenings) May 3-11, 2003.

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Fall October 21, 1983

Released in United States October 2000 (Shown at AFI Fest 2000: The American Film Institute Los Angeles International Film Festival (Tribute) October 19-26, 2000.)

Released in United States May 2003 (Shown at Tribeca Film Festival (Special Screenings) May 3-11, 2003.)

Released in United States October 1983

Released in United States October 1983