fraenkel film festival

The Right Stuff

Selected by Richard Misrach

Before writer-director Philip Kaufman brought Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff to the big screen in 1983, onscreen astronauts were little more than alien quarry or asteroid bait. In Kaufman’s hands, however, spaceflight became a far more human pursuit—a story not of external threats but inner resolve. The film—which tells the story of test pilots like Chuck Yeager and Gordon Cooper as they break the sound barrier and launch toward the exosphere—was almost as daring as its subject. (Kaufman calls it “the longest movie ever made without a plot.”) But it introduced an entire cinematic genre, what Quentin Tarantino has called the “hip epic,” inspiring everyone from Michael Bay to James Cameron, who hired its cinematographer for Titanic. Its dialog has become a go-to signifier of human accomplishment; director Rian Johnson celebrated landing his Star Wars gig by tweeting a clip from the movie. “Phil really pulled it off,” George Lucas says. None other than Christopher Nolan has called it “an almost perfect movie.”

Making it was an epic in itself. Its locations were hard-earned; its special-effects plan was largely reconceived during production; one man lost part of an ear on the set, another lost his life. But more than three decades later, The Right Stuff still resonates, a testament to the incredible feats of bravery, sacrifice, and intelligence of which humans are capable—and to the inherent absurdity of climbing into tin cans mounted on ballistic missiles and blasting into space.

Part of the Fraenkel Film Festival

3h 13m
Philip Kaufman
First Showing
July 20, 2024


Saturday, July 20, 2024 6:45 PM
Location Big Roxie

Please note the conversation will start at 6:45pm and the film will start at approximately 7:15pm.
Discounted for members with promo code (email for details)
All-films festival passes ($200) available here.

All ticket sales are final.