1983 saw the arrival of a huge sci-fi film that went on to become a classic. It was filled with triumph, it had tragedy and contained the glories of space flight. I am writing, of course, about Return of the Jedi. But there was another Ewok-less space film from that same year, and sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
Based on the book by Tom Wolfe, the story chronicles the story of test pilot Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) and his attempts to remain the “fastest man alive”. His story is mirrored and contrasted to the journey of the America’s first astronauts. Yeager fights his battles against the demon that lives at Mach 1. The Mercury astronauts find themselves facing all kinds of obstacles, including bizarre tests, overbearing newsmen, and finally the perils of space flight itself. Will these men have The Right Stuff to finally surpass the Russians in some aspect of the space race? Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Barbara Hershey, Lance Henriksen, Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer are just part of this impressive cast.
- Solid acting by the entire cast
- A real eye for detail pulls you back into the era
- An inspiring musical score by Bill Conti
- Some of the humor doesn’t always work
- The ending is very abrupt and odd
- Clocking in at over 3 hours, it requires a bit of commitment
When each piece of the film is examined closely, you wonder what happened. Why are some parts so focused on humor? Why are other parts intensely patriotic? Who is the focus of the film Yeager or the astronauts? Are they both? What is up with the ending? And yet for all those questions, the movie is always entertaining, always pulls me in, and allows me to easily recommend it to anyone interested in the early days of the space race. And if you do some research on the very difficult making of this movie – you appreciate that the movie is as good as it turned out to be.
Scores (out of 5)