HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Bird Island
Variety
Devil to Pay, The
Gypsy
Lost in London
Divorce Italian Style
Becky
Salon Kitty
Misbehaviour
Charles, Dead or Alive
Gretel and Hansel
Mademoiselle
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Out/Marriage
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
Savage
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
   
 
Newest Articles
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
   
 
  Right Stuff, The Reach For The Stars
Year: 1983
Director: Philip Kaufman
Stars: Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Barbara Hershey, Kim Stanley, Veronica Cartwright, Pamela Reed, Scott Paulin, Charles Frank, Lance Henriksen, Donald Moffat, Levon Helm, Mary Jo Deschanel, Scott Wilson, Kathy Baker
Genre: HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: The year is 1947 and far away from civilisation in the California desert there are endeavours afoot to bring off a top secret project to break the sound barrier in an aeroplane. There has been a selection of failed attempts, some ending in death, but such is the life of a test pilot, fraught with danger once they are up in the skies. However, Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard), a World War II flying ace who was celebrated in military circles for his bravery is now interested, and as a skilled pilot, possibly the most skilled in the United States, the powers that be are keen to see him at the controls of their most advanced prototype yet. It won’t be a smooth journey, especially after Yeager breaks ribs in a riding accident, but somehow he succeeds and history is made…

There was a lot of history being made in director Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s bestselling book, a true life account of what went on behind the scenes in America’s space programme of the nineteen-fifties and sixties. Kaufman took the source’s idolisation of Yeager, who by all accounts was happy to be lauded in such a fashion, and who wouldn’t be, to bring to bear a more searching examination of heroism and how it had changed from the famed pilot’s heyday to how we regarded them in the eighties. Of course, there was no shortage of heroes in American cinema of that decade, many of them wielding guns and doling out violence to prove themselves, but here was someone to look up to who didn’t kill anyone for the full three hours plus The Right Stuff lasted.

Yeager had naturally killed during the war, but his portrayal here and the band of Mercury space pioneers were not shown to be bloodthirsty in the least, at odds with the Ronald Reagan era of politics this would-be blockbuster emerged from. As a result, what appeared to be a sure thing flopped very badly at the box office, leaving the studio and filmmakers reeling that an item of such obvious quality should fail to strike a chord at all with the public who were fresh from enjoying the escapades of the Space Shuttles – this was three years before the Challenger disaster made them feel a lot less invincible. Yet there was more to it than that, as Kaufman’s tone was always questioning, always asking us how we were reacting to these images of sometimes noble, other times crass people.

Look at the way the women were presented: the wives of the Mercury crew and Yeager’s spouse Glennis (Barbara Hershey) were always fretting, wondering if any of this was worth it when there was a very real possibility that the next flight could be their last and they would never see their husbands alive again, a tone of worry that was at odds of the more straightforward celebration it could have been. That President John F. Kennedy featured often in archive footage only underlined the fragility of those we look up to, both because they may have feet of clay and because someone or something might cut them down just when we need them most. For this reason, The Right Stuff played far better later on once its considerable cult following was established, as the idea of irony pervaded pop culture in a way displayed here, but ahead of its time for 1983 when Kaufman was examining the phenomenon.

In pitiless detail, as he recreated various events, some more fictionalised than others, with a view to pondering the worth of such possibly deadly events, and all for some nebulous concept of glory that by his time, after the late sixties in fact, not everyone was buying into. That said, when the director wished to portray the incredible feats concerned he truly dedicated himself to them: contrast the treatment of Gus Grissom (Fred Ward) whose heroism is in doubt thanks to an uncertainty about whether he jettisoned his capsule door or not with the flight of John Glen (Ed Harris) as he orbited the globe, a magical and near-mystical sequence that was among the greatest of the eighties as he marvels at his situation as Australian aborigines perform a ceremony back on Earth and at mission control they realise he is very close to death thanks to faulty equipment. No matter the tendency to caricature, that too was part of the film’s relentless examination of derring-do, with even Yeager called into queries about how sensible he was for pushing himself and how sensible we were for admiring him. The conclusion was mixed: we needed these heroes, but regretfully admitted they had their flaws, a state of mind that would only grow more relevant as the new millennium dawned. Music by Bill Conti.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1447 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Philip Kaufman  (1936 - )

Level-headed American writer and director who doesn't shy away from challenging material; after award-winning debut Goldstein, he offered superhero spoof Fearless Frank, but it was five years until his movie career really got off the ground. The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid was followed by The White Dawn and the script for The Outlaw Josey Wales, and a remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers was his first big hit. Then came The Wanderers, The Right Stuff, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the controversial Henry & June, Rising Sun, Marquis de Sade drama Quills and thriller Twisted. He also contributed to the story of Raiders of the Lost Ark; considering his talent, it's surprising how few films he has directed.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: