Tom Wolfe's book on the history of the U.S. Space program reads like a novel, and the film has that same fictional quality. It covers the breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager to the Mercury 7 astronauts, showing that no one had a clue how to run a space program or how to select people to be in it. Thrilling, funny, charming and electrifying all at once.
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Philip Kaufman's 1983 film is an efficient and absorbing recapitulation of the main events of Tom Wolfe's book that still never succeeds in capturing the inner drives and ethics of the test pilots and astronauts - the "right stuff" never materializes.
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