Monday, February 6, 2017

Movie Review: "The Right Stuff" (1983)

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Movie"The Right Stuff"
Year Nominated: 1984
Director: Philip Kaufman
Rating: PG
Running Time: 3 hours, 13 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

Test pilots and military pilots are recruited to the newly instituted NASA space program and train to become the first Americans in space.

"The Right Stuff" is directed by Philip Kaufman, who also wrote the screenplay based on the book by Tom Wolfe. It stars an ensemble cast, including the fabulous Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Denis Quaid, Fred Ward, Lance Henriksen, Scott Paulin, Charles Frank, Donald Moffat, Sam Shepard, plus many more. The film tells the story of NASA's space program and the Mercury 7 astronauts. The movie starts with the story of a test pilot named Chuck Yeager, played by Shepard, who was the first man to break the sound barrier. Though there is a lot of focus on Yeager's story early on, he isn't one of the men who later join the Mercury 7 program. That is a job left to three other test pilots, Gordon Cooper, Deke Slayton and Gus Grissom, played by Quaid, Paulin, and Ward. It was Yeager's breaking of the sound barrier and the advancements beyond which allowed for humankind to enter space. This is the main reason for his inclusion within the context of this story. The other astronauts in the program are John Glenn, played by Harris, Alan Shepard, played by Glenn, Wally Schirra, played by Henriksen, as well as Scott Carpenter, played by Frank. We watch them train for their mission, which is to travel into space and orbit the earth, pushing their bodies to the limit and all of the drama that comes with doing the never been done, the unthinkable.

"The Right Stuff" is well acted and the group of men have a great chemistry as they create both a spirit of camaraderie, as well as friendly rivalry with one another as each individual in the Mercury 7 mission tries to prove their background is the best background, that their worth means something to the collective team. They also have to fight for respect from the public, engineers, and fellow pilots to be seen as more than just test subjects. They also have to prove their job isn't something a chimp can do and that it is actually much more involved. There are a lot of spectacular visuals throughout the film, especially the depictions of space and space travel. The movie earned eight Academy Award nominations, including best picture, and wound up taking home four Oscars for sound, editing, sound editing, and score, all of which are well deserved. Though the movie clocks in at 3 hours and 13 minutes in length, it manages to remain mostly engaging as it seamlessly mixes humor, human drama, awesome space related training, and excitement throughout its run time. If you're into movies about space or space travel, look no further than "The Right Stuff."

Last Oscar season, we were watching: "The Thin Man"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"

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