The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)

Presenting the American Space program in its debuts, the first astronauts from the novel of famous author Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff is the celebration of the race with the Soviets to conquer space. Called the star war in the 1960's the film was in competition with Return of the Jedi in 1983 at the Box Office and at the Oscars. However, it was the year of Terms of Endearnment and this movie got all the major awards.

In 1983, Kaufman was a capable director having directed The White Dawn and the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but he was mostly known for his writing credits on The Outlaw Josey Wales and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The ambitions of The Right Stuff are pretty clear when you immerse yourself into this all-American vehicule made to earn Oscars. It displays the Cold War climate of the time and reflects true American values of commitment to the banner and the cocky seven astronauts. With lesser known actors; Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn, Fred Ward, and Barbara Hershey.

However the lack of personal approach and the running time are the two main problems of the film. Even if it's the first Kaufman film I ever saw and that I guess that his directing style is probably sober and "classic" I found his work on The Right Stuff uninspired and outdated for a film directed in 1983. It looked like a made for TV movie although I really liked the use of original footage in the launches of the many spaceships.

But, I was probably expecting too much, I though that a film that runs for three hours and fifteen minutes should at least hold us on the tip of our seat. To me it doens't did it. Worth a look.


  1. When I read your note about how long the movie was I didn't believe it. I pulled out my DVD and sure enough - 193 minutes. I guess I was engrossed enough in the story to not notice the length.

    When I was a little kid I wanted to be an astronaut. (I drank Tang and everything.) That probably made me more interested in this movie. (In case you're not old enough to have heard of Tang - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_(drink))

  2. I know Tang, even if I'm not from this generation but I used to work for a grocery store in my student years and we had this product on the top shelves over the cranberry juices. There wasn't a big rotation in the Tang...
    They recommend to put this into your dishwasher if you want to clean it!


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