The Right Stuff (film)

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The Right Stuff is a 1983 film about the about the test pilots who were involved in high-speed aeronautical research at Edwards Air Force Base as well as those selected to be astronauts for Project Mercury.

Written and directed by Philip Kaufman, based on the book by Tom Wolfe.
How the future began.


  • [opening narration] There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, 750 miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it... the sound barrier. Then, they built a small plane, the X-1, to try and break the sound barrier. And men came to the high desert in California to ride it. They were called test pilots. And no one knew their names.
  • [closing narration] The Mercury program was over. Four years later, astronaut Gus Grissom was killed, along with astronauts White and Chaffee, when fire swept through their Apollo capsule. But on that glorious day in May 1963, Gordo Cooper went higher, farther, and faster than any other American. Twenty-two complete orbits around the world, he was the last American ever to go into space alone. And for a brief moment, Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen.

Chuck Yeager[edit]

  • Hey, Ridley, ya got any Beeman's? Loan me some, will you — I'll pay you back later.
  • [about the original Mercury capsule, which lacked pilot controls] Anyone who goes up in that damn thing is gonna be spam in a can.

John Glenn[edit]

  • It's important to America to get a man up there first. I'm planning on being the first man to ride the rocket.


Reporter: I'm going to place a long distance call to Los Angeles.
Air Force Major: [resets the phone] Who are you calling?
Reporter: The press! This is big news! The sound barrier's finally been broken!
Air Force Major: No, sir, no press!
Reporter: What?
Air Force Major: No word of this going beyond the flight-line!
Reporter: [inserts a coin] Hey, come on, now! This is big news! We need coverage for this!
Air Force Major: No, sir, sorry! No press! Those are orders. National security.
Reporter: But the war's over!
Air Force Major: Well, look, pal. Maybe they don't want someone to know.
Reporter: Who?
Air Force Major: The Russians, maybe.
Reporter: The Russians?! They're our allies!
Air Force Major: Well, anyway, somebody wanted it that way. And that's the way it is.

[Two recruiters argue on a U.S. Navy carrier about accepting Navy pilots for Project Mercury.]
Recruiter #1: [seasick] Are you sure the Navy's got good pilots?
Recruiter #2: [also seasick] They call them aviators in the Navy. They say they're better than pilots.

Recruiter #1: I guess you've heard about our project. We're going up against the Russians all the way. It's got the highest... [gags]
Recruiter #2: Priority.
Recruitrer #1: It's a hazardous undertaking. In fact, it's extremely hazardous, if you get my meaning.
Recruiter #2: It's so hazardous, that, if, uh, you decide not to volunteer, it will not be held against you in any way.
Alan Shepard: Sounds dangerous.
Recruiter #1: It is.
Recruiter #2: Very dangerous.
Alan Shepard: Count me in.

Reporter 1#: Gentlemen, I'd like to know from each of you whether your wives and children had anything to say about this. Mr. Slayton?
Deke Slayton: Uh, mine thinks it's fine.
Reporter 2#: Thank you. Mr. Schirra?
Wally Schirra: Uh, they're all for it.
John Glenn: You know, I don't think any of us could really go on with something like this if we didn't have pretty good backing at home. Really. My wife's attitude toward this has been the same as it's been all along through my flying. If it's what I want to do, she's behind it, and by golly, my kids are too, a hundred percent!

[The seven Mercury astronauts are being shown their spacecraft.]
Gordon Cooper: Uh, where are you putting the window?
German Scientist #1: Window? There is no window.
Gus Grissom: No window? What about the hatch?
German Scientist #1: The hatch?
Gus Grissom: Yeah, the hatch. We need a hatch with explosive bolts that we can open ourselves.
German Scientist #1: I think there is something you do not understand. This is the final form of the capsule. No hatch.
Deke Slayton: What if the automatic controls went out?
German Scientist #1: Backups, checks, etcetera. This would not happen.
Deke Slayton: I said, what would happen if it did?
Scott Carpenter: The pilot would have to fly it back.
German Scientist #2: This is the way it is.
John Glenn: You know, I wonder how the press is going to feel about this.
German Scientist #2: The press? What does the press have to say about this?
German Scientist #1: Yeah, what do they have to say about it?
Gordon Cooper: You boys know what makes this bird go up? Funding makes this bird go up.
Gus Grissom: That's right. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.
Gordon Cooper: And, uh, the press over there, they want to see Buck Rogers.
Deke Slayton: And that's us. Buck Rogers.
John Glenn: You see, those fellas over there, they've been making us out as the seven finest, and bravest pilots in all America. And if a story were to come out in the press that we were not being allowed to fly as pilots...
Alan Shepard: We want a window.
German Scientist #2: Uh, there could maybe be in future capsules, be a window, right here.
Gus Grissom: No, that's where the hatch with explosive bolts goes.
German Scientist #1: The hatch with the explosive...? Yeah. There could be a hatch with explosive bolts on the capsule.
Alan Shepard: That is a spacecraft, sir. We do not refer to it as a "capsule". Spacecraft.
German Scientist #1: Yeah. The hatch with explosive bolts on the... spacecraft. There. And there will be pitch and yaw thrusters which will enable the astronaut occupant—
Deke Slayton: The pilot. "Astronaut occupant"?
German Scientist #1: Yeah, the astronaut... pilot to have some...
John Glenn: [Holds up a hand, interrupting him.]
German Scientist #1: To have...
John Glenn: [Points at the press, then gestures to the scientist that he may continue speaking.]
German Scientist #1: ... control of the re-entry procedures.
John Glenn: Thank you. we appreciate it. You wouldn't mind if we had the press over here take a few photos of us by our spacecraft now, would you?

[Alan Shepard is being prepared for his flight and has just been sealed inside the Mercury spacecraft.]
Alan Shepard: Dear Lord - please don't let me fuck up.
Gordon Cooper: [at launch control center] I didn't quite copy that. Say again, please.
[An alarmed Shepard, realizing his communications are being monitored, tries to cover up his words.]
Alan Shepard: Uh, I said everything is A-OK!
Gordon Cooper: [amused] Well, I thought that's what you said. [switches channels] He says everything is A-OK!


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