Sam Shepard-Chuck Yeager
Scott Glenn-Alan Shepard
Ed Harris-John Glenn
Dennis Quaid-Gordon Cooper
Fred Ward-Gus Grissom
Barbara Hershey-Glennis Yeager
Kim Stanley-Pancho Barnes
Veronica Cartwright-Betty Grissom
Pamela Reed-Trudy Cooper
Scott Paulin-Deke Slayton
Charles Frank-Scott Carpenter
Lance Henriksen-Walter Schirra
Donald Moffat-Lyndon Johnson
Levon Helm-Jack Ridley/Narrator
Mary Jo Deschanel-Annie Glenn





The Right Stuff didn't do all that well at the box office and there are many theories about why it didn't.  I'm not going to speculate about it here.  The fact that it was one of the nominees for best picture in 1983 should say something about the quality of this film.

The story is based on Tom Wolfe's best-selling book of the same name.  It is the story of the Mercury astronauts from their recruitment for the space program up to Gordon Cooper's last flight of the Mercury program.  This is also a story of test pilots, some of whom never made it into the space program.  Besides the fact that many of these pilots were killed testing airplanes, some were not considered to be astronaut material.  The movie centers particularly on Chuck Yeager as the pilot's pilot.  He's played by Sam Shepard in the movie.  The real-life Chuck Yeager has a cameo role as Fred the bartender at Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club.

This film has a stellar cast of stars.  Besides Sam Shepard, there is Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Dennis Quaid as Gordon Cooper, Fred Ward as Gus Grissom and Barbara Hershey as Glennis Yeager.  Also in the movie are such personalities as Pamela Reed, Veronica Cartwright, Lance Henriksen, Royal Dano, and Jeff Goldblum.  The list of fine actors is much too long to mention all of them here.

Sam Shepard was nominated for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Yeager.  I've admired his acting ability in everything I've seen him in but, from what I've read, he'd rather work on his award winning plays than act in a movie.

The basic story is historically correct but there are many liberties taken as there are with most movies.  One of the goals of NASA is to make the astronauts look and act like squeaky clean all American boys.  There is a line that runs throughout the movie, spoken by different people, that says, "No bucks, no Buck Rogers."  The story makes it abundantly clear that NASA is aware of this and the agency protects itself vigorously from negative publicity while trying in every way to encourage public support for the space program.

I'd rate this movie as one of the better ones ever made.  I don't think I'd rate it as high as Apocalypse Now but I'd certainly put it right up there with Platoon or The China Syndrome which were both great films.






Wav Sound Files (11KHz)

(click on blue link to download)

Ridley: "They were called test pilots and no one knew their names." (76K)
Bar Patron: "What do you have to do to get your picture up there anyway?"

Pancho: "You have to die, sweetie."  (52K)
Yeager: "Hey, Ridley. You got any Beemans?"

Ridley: "Yah, I think I got a stick."

Yeager: "Loan me some, will you? I'll pay you back later."  (70K)
Cooper: "Look at old Yeager. On top of the pyramid for five God-damned years. Every time somebody goes faster, he just goes up again.  (101K)
Recruiter: "And this is the joint they hang out in, Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club."  (48K)
Recruiter: "They keep thinking they got the right stuff."  (22K)
Yeager:"I'll tell you what else. Anybody who goes up in that damned thing is going to be Spam in a can."  (39K)
Grissom: "What the hell's 'astronaut' mean anyway?"  (27K)
Shepard: "I'd advise you not to try to foist your view of morality on anybody else in this group."  (112K)
Shepard: "Gordo, I have to urinate."  (18K)
Shepard: "Alright, I'm cooler than you are. Why don't you fix your little problems and light this candle?" (49K)
Yeager: "Yah, well, sometimes you get a pooch that can't be screwed, you know."  (36K)
LBJ: "Isn't there anybody who can deal with a housewife?"  (90K)
Glenn: "I see something strange out here."  (23K)
Tower: "You are clear to taxi."  (31K)
Cooper: "The sun is coming through the window now. Oh, Lord, what a heavenly light."  (93K)


Wav Sound Effects From the Movie (11KHz)

X1 flying by.  (127K)
Missing man formation jets flying over.  (175K)
Horse galloping.  (31K)
Broom handle being sawed off.  (54K)
Turbo prop engine starting.  (74K)
Faulty plumbing sounds.  (136K)
Jet launched from aircraft carrier.  (130K)
Bubbling lung capacity test.  (95K)
Wind whistling.  (43K)
Switch being thrown.  (5K)
A warning signal.  (33K)
Booster separating from capsule.  (162K)
Capsule hatch blowing off.  (13K)
Engine warning signal.  (10K)



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Apocalypse Now (1978) An army Captain searches for a renegade Colonel In Vietnam.
Blackboard Jungle (1955) A story of juvenile delinquency at an inner city school.
Bullitt (1968) A San Francisco police detective searches for gunmen who killed an informant.
Cool Hand Luke (1967) An ex war hero is sentenced to a chain gang for cutting the heads off parking meters.
Deliverance (1972) Four friends go on a canoe trip where they encounter unforeseen terrors.
The Day of the Jackal (1973) A sophisticated assassin is hired by a French group to kill President de Gaulle.
Electra Glide in Blue (1973) An Arizona motorcycle patrolman tries to become a detective.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966) Ray Bradbury's futuristic tale of book burning and mind control.
Fail-Safe (1964) Cold War thriller where U.S. bombers are unleashed upon The Soviet Union.
Fargo (1996) Car salesman hires two inept criminals to kidnap his wife.
Glory (1989) Colonel Robert Gould Shaw commands the Civil War's first all volunteer black regiment.
In Cold Blood (1967) Adaptation of Truman Capote's novel about the murder of a farm family in rural Kansas.
Inherit the Wind (1960) Account of trial of John Scopes for teaching The Theory of Evolution in Tennessee.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972) A veteran becomes a hard fighting mountain man.
Logan's Run (1976) A policeman of the future tries to prevent escapes from the city.
The Lords of Discipline (1983) Control of classmates at a southern military school by a group known as "The Ten".
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) An out of control posse sets out to avenge the death of a local rancher.
Patton (1970) A famous general commands armies during World War II.
Platoon (1986) An idealistic soldier learns that idealism doesn't exist in Vietnam.
The Right Stuff (1983) Story that covers the breaking of the sound barrier through the Mercury space program.
Seven Days in May (1964) Senior military officers plot to take over the government of The United States.
Son of the Morning Star Fairly accurate account of Colonel George A. Custer leading up to the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Southern Comfort (1981) Louisiana National Guard on maneuvers in a swamp meet up with local opposition.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) A gang hijacks a New York subway train and holds the passengers for ransom.
Witness (1985) A Philadelphia detective hides in a rural Amish community from corrupt police .


Airplane! (1980) Story of dysfunctional crew and passengers on board a Chicago bound flight.
American Graffiti (1973) One night in the lives of teenagers in 1962
Animal House (1978) A run down fraternity's members cause chaos on campus.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Two elderly matrons poison lonely men and bury the bodies in the basement.
Cat Ballou (1966) An outlaw and her gang rob trains to try to break a town.
The Cheyenne Social Club (1970) A cowboy inherits a brothel called The Cheyenne Social Club.
Dr. Strangelove (1964) Insane base commander sends his B52 bombers into the Soviet Union.
Harvey (1950) Quiet, unassuming man has a giant rabbit for a friend.
The Mouse That Roared (1959) Smallest country in the world declares war on the U.S. and wins.
On Golden Pond (1981) Elderly couple spend a summer at their cottage on a lake.
The President's Analyst (1967) A prominent psychoanalyst becomes the psychiatrist for the president.
Raising Arizona (1987) An ex-con and a policewoman kidnap a baby to raise as their own.
Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) A drifter on his way to Australia takes the post as sheriff of a western boom town.
Waking Ned Devine (1998) Villagers try to collect a dead man's lottery winnings.