Movie Review: The Right Stuff (1983)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1983 docudrama starring Sam Shepard and Scott Glenn.

Synopsis: Six years after the sound barrier is broken, the United States competes with the Soviet Union to be the first nation to send a man into space. Already falling behind, NASA recruits seven test pilots and begins training them to be the nation's first astronauts in the experimental Mercury space program.

Who's In It?


My wife had to work Friday night and, as always, I looked for a movie to watch while waiting up for her. I had not seen "The Right Stuff" in forever and, knowing it was a movie nobody else in my family would watch with me (mostly because of it being more than 3 hours long), decided to put it on. 

I was about 10 years old the last time I had seen this particular film and didn't remember much about it as a result. However, it turned out to be a pretty decent choice.

I think the thing I really like about this movie is the way it presents history through the eyes of the men who made it. A movie about the space race would be somewhat entertaining to begin with. But, presenting that aspect as more of a background story and, instead, focusing on the astronauts and their families, really made me feel like I was there, despite the fact it was about events that predated me by about two decades.

I found the part about the astronauts' wives particularly intriguing because, while there was still some pride, there was quite a bit of negative to go with that role, especially with the media pounding on their doors all the time. I found it easy to feel sorry for them, especially since you rarely hear anything about them in history books.

Probably my only real complaint about this movie was the extra emphasis on Chuck Yeager's (Shepard) career. While his historical contributions were rightfully not overlooked, the movie does seem to go out of its way to make sure he gets the last laugh, even after the film shifts its focus from setting speed records to the space race he wasn't invited to join. My only thought with that is maybe there's something in the book this movie is based off of that explains that better and I may have to look for it the next time I'm at the library as a result.

Final Opinion

As I said, this movie is over three hours long and you really do need to have the time to watch it from start to finish. However, if you have the time to watch it, it's worth doing so.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 04/18/2016, StevenHelmer
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