Appreciating all that makes America special

The Right Stuff, Movie

Cast of The Right Stuff, film on

The original seven Mercury astronauts were proud to risk their lives - though they had a hard time explaining why. Uploaded by

I’ll read anything Tom Wolfe writes. If I could get my hands on his grocery list, it’s probably more entertaining than 80 percent of the books published today. But my favorite Wolfe book is easy to choose: The Right Stuff.

The Right Stuff, a film featured on

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It’s the story of the beginnings of the American space program, from test pilots like Chuck Yeager through the Mercury Seven astronauts. He told the story of their bravery, of what motivated them to be willing to test the limits of flight and to be strapped to a rocket and risk their lives for the thrill. It’s brilliantly written (of course), contrasting the bureaucrats of NASA with the machismo of the pilots.

Philip Kaufman did an excellent job of translating the book to the screen, writing the screenplay and directing the film as well. It had a great cast – Sam Shepard, Fred Ward, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, and Dennis Quaid in the lead roles – and it was by turns funny, frightening, and dramatic. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and won four. As with all movies adapted from books, some changes were made to fit the medium. Interestingly, Tom Wolfe didn’t like the movie, because he didn’t care for Kaufman’s editorial choices.

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