Archive for December 13th, 2016


By J.D. Lafrance

When The Right Stuff came out in 1983, pundits were anticipating it to make a big splash at the box office. Based on Tom Wolfe’s book of the same name, Philip Kaufman’s film depicted the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union with the focus on the Mercury 7 — seven astronauts who trained to become the first Americans in outer space. With this kind of patriotic subject matter how could the film not be a big hit? Despite scoring well with critics, The Right Stuff failed to get off the launch pad with audiences.

At the time of its release, the studio backing it decided to market the film in tandem with Mercury 7 astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn’s run for the presidency. Mainstream audiences felt that Kaufman’s motion picture was going to be nothing more than an expensive campaign ad and stayed away. The film disappeared off of almost everyone’s radar for several years, only appearing semi-regularly on cable television. However, with anniversary releases on DVD and, more recently, on Blu-Ray, the film has been re-discovered and is generally regarded as an influential cinematic masterpiece.

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