A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Right Stuff -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Since it was released in 1983, Phil Kaufman's The Right Stuff has been on my top ten list, and never below the number five. To me, it's one of the greatest quintessentially American films ever made.

    Based upon the book by Tom Wolfe, it captures a very special time in our history, and the men and women who made it. It's all about patriotism, flag-waving, and people brave enough to put their lives on the line, not in battle, but to extend our technological horizons.

    I first saw it at the Plitt in Century City in a 70mm blow-up and 6-track magnetic Dolby. The image was huge. The audio was immense, rich and full.

    In the intervening years I was content with a 35mm stereo print, which looked superb on my home screen, and sounded incredibly big for my speaker size at that time.

    And while I was never quite satisfied with any of the past home video releases, as they had no way of capturing the true aura of this film, we've finally reached a point where I can be thrilled with a home video incarnation of the film.

    To those who have never seen The Right Stuff, I'm jealous of your ability to see it for the first time, especially in this quality.

    If you have home theater projection, play it big. Play it loud.

    And allow yourselves to become immersed in this incredible motion picture achievement.

    One of the greatest films ever created.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5 (Dolby True HD Advance - 96k upsampling)

    A perfect Blu-ray of a perfect motion picture.

    Extremely Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    One of my most anticipated releases of 2013. Very happy to hear that Warner Bros. has done justice to this wonderful film. Not quite a top ten of all time for me, but close enough.

    - Walter.
     
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  3. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    Absolutely! Unfortunately, it still doesn't have the reputation it deserves. Hopefully, that will change. I'm very glad for the quality of the new blu.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Still can understand why it didn't get Best Picture. Was just chatting with an associate who did some of the capsule fx work on the film, who I've asked to post, and possibly answer a few questions.

    RAH
     
  5. davidmatychuk

    davidmatychuk Screenwriter

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    The casting was miraculous. Those actors in those roles, right down to the bit parts, are just perfect.
     
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  6. atcolomb

    atcolomb Second Unit

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    One of the first laserdiscs i ever got and still have it and have the dvd release. I agree it's one of the best American films and told my brother this is what i wanted for Christmas of all the blu-rays out there.
     
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  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    One of the biggest shocks of my life was walking out of the screening for this film just knowing it would become one of the all-time box-office grossers, and then to see it do mediocrely at the box-office. To this day, I can't believe it didn't clean up. This film really had everything a movie audience should want from a feature.
     
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  8. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Some of my thoughts on The Right Stuff and the Academy Awards. It did well in the technical categories but was shutout in the major categories for which it was nominated: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography. The fact that it did not get a Best Director or Best Adapted Screenplay nomination was a pretty good indicator that it would not win Best Picture.

    The large cast of relatively (at the time) unknown actors probably hurt the film's chances at Best Picture. I've looked at the nominees for the Academy Awards that year and the other major recipients were Tender Mercies and Terms of Endearment - not exactly dog meat for competition. Both of those films featured dominant acting performances which The Right Stuff lacked, which leads me to think that the lack of a major actor in a definitive leading role was one of the biggest strikes against the film. Sam Shepard received a Supporting Actor nomination but that was it for the Acting awards.

    I have a good friend who has always criticized the mixed tone of the film with his belief that the humor in the film is a little too broad and that it undermines the dramatic tone of the film. He feels that if it had been played straighter that the epic qualities of the story would have been better received. I disagree, but perhaps others felt that way as well. (?) This mixed tone may have hurt Kaufman's chances for a Directing nomination. (?)

    I too was surprised that it didn't do as well at the box office and maybe that hurt its Academy Award chances. Of course it had a long run time which cut into potential screenings / revenue. I wouldn't mind seeing the film receive more acclaim simply so that others who have never experienced this splendid film might take a look; but more acclaim will not make me enjoy it any more. I'm just happy to hear that Warner Bros. has released a quality Blu-Ray of this American classic.

    - Walter.
     
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  9. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    As a kid, I was entranced by the early space program. Both book and film, in their own unique and wonderful ways, brought that alive for me again. This will make for a very special night of viewing.
     
  10. KPmusmag

    KPmusmag Supporting Actor
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    I love this movie so much, but I have never been happy with any home video incarnation.
    To have Mr. Harris' seal of approval on the blu-ray actually brought a tear to my eye. I can't wait!
     
  11. bujaki

    bujaki Screenwriter

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    The Right Stuff was, and still is, the best movie of that particular year. A great American film. I saw it first run in NYC, and as RAH describes it, the experience was quite impressive.
    Could the satirical tone of the movie have hurt it at the box office? Chuck Yeager, I think, is the only one who comes out unscathed, the only one with "the right stuff."
    I'm not overlooking the accomplishments and heroism of the others. But see how Kaufman introduces Yeager. It's how a myth is presented.
     
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  12. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    Saw it when it came out, but being a big fan of the book, I had trouble reconciling the film with the book; and in some key scenes, for example, Chuck Yeager's fall, the film just gets it wrong, the scene being played in such a way that you can't tell what's going on unless you've read the book. One of the things the book stresses is just how smart these guys were, engineers, for goshes sakes, PhDs in some cases, but the film pretty much misses that angle entirely, and presents them as cowboys pure and simple. The book was deeply engaging, thrilling and exciting and with a sense of the deadliness of the test pilots' lives; the film is pretty much clownish, and sort of irritatingly down-market. But I'm probably in the minority here......
     
  13. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    A wonderful film that tells the stories of true American pioneers and heroes that I admired as a child. I remember doing school papers on most of them and this film truly caught their spirt and determination. I am glad that Warner's took their time and gave us what seems to be am exceptional Blu-ray.
     
  14. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    It will be interesting to see what he says. I know that the use of NASA documentary footage for the launch sequence externals may have some quality issues, and I've wondered whether some were retouched by the FX team. Ron Howard was skeptical enough to go 100% FX when he later did the fiim Apollo 13.

    The film (1983) followed quickly the publication of the book (1979). I don't really recall the reception of the book upon its publication.

    I went to work for Lockheed in the late 1970s. In my first project, Outlaw Shark, one of the department's draftsmen was named Mike Yeager. One day going over some drawings I asked him if he was any relation to Chuck Yeager. He laconically anwered "yeah, that's my Dad". Maybe some of the family right stuff rubbed off on the project, which was the intel correlation and targetting for Tomahawk. We gave a demonstration to an enthusiastic Jimmy Carter aboard USS Los Angeles, who went right home and cancelled the B2 bomber, putting Tomahawk on the fast track instead.
     
  15. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I forgot to mention that I really get a kick out of the walk-on part played by the real-life Chuck Yeager in the film.
     
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  16. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Thank you Robert. Your words helped set my mind at ease. I have a friend that I loaned the dvd copy to last year. He told me it was "rather boring". I was crushed. On par with the first girlfriend I really cared about break up with me sort of crushed! 'The Right Stuff' has always been one of my favorite films. A cinematic marvel of the human spirit, and the wonderment of space. I just want to say as someone that values your opinion, this is the best "A few words about.." column I have read. :)
     
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  17. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    I read the book shortly before the film came out. I have always been puzzled by those who felt that the film was not faithful to the book as I thought Kaufman captured Wolfe's swashbuckling, free-wheeling tone very well. I think the main difference was that Kaufman would take scenes where Wolfe said "it felt as if" and chang them into an actual events in the movie. One that stands out for me is the scene where LBJ welcomes the astronauts to the convention center in Houston near the film's end. Wolfe said the display was "as if LBJ were standing there saying 'lookee hear what I brought you!'". Of course, in the film, Kaufman staged the scene exactly that way, with LBJ saying that exact line (even though in reality, he didn't).
     
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  18. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    While the humor didn't put me off, I could see the sequences with Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer taking some folks out of the film -- they do seem a little out of place.

    As for the cast, when you look at the list from today's perspective it is an all-star cast, so it is amazing to consider that most of them were relatively unknowns at that time.

    Anyway, my feelings for this film are similar to what so many others have already stated here. It's a terrific film, and it sounds like from Robert's words that the BD transfer has been worth the long wait for us fans. This is probably my most anticipated title being released this year. November 5th cannot get here soon enough.
     
  19. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I do not aspire to know the minds of Academy voters, but here's a few things to consider as to why the Academy did not vote this Best Picture:
    (1) It was not financially successful ($21.5 M gross on a $27 million budget)
    (2) It's a long movie (not determinative, but consider that epics were not plentiful in the 80s)
    (3) It was not universally well received; although many positive notices exist from the time of release, more of the reviews informing the Rotten Tomatoes number are well post-release.
    (4) WB dropped the ball promoting it, although some of the blame may lie with insufficient resources from the Ladd Company, which was shuttered from 1985-95 due to several underperforming titles [Blade Runner, The Right Stuff, Once Upon a Time in America) which are now revered as classics.
    I really enjoy the movie, and can't stand Terms of Endearment, but there you have it.
     
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  20. Peter Neski

    Peter Neski Supporting Actor

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    [*]I thought it was pretty good ,top ten of all time? was that what you meant? or were you talking about 80's films
    [/list]
     
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