AFI Movie Club: THE RIGHT STUFF – American Film Institute



THE RIGHT STUFF is ranked #19 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers list of the most inspiring films of all time. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel is an alum of the first class of the AFI Conservatory. THE RIGHT STUFF marked his first Academy Award® nomination. 

Watch Zooey Deschanel announce THE RIGHT STUFF:

Movie Trivia about THE RIGHT STUFF

DID YOU KNOW that THE RIGHT STUFF is based on a bestseller by Tom Wolfe about real-life test pilots and astronauts who routinely risked their lives for scientific discovery? 

DID YOU KNOW that William Goldman wrote an initial screen adaptation that focused entirely on the Project Mercury astronauts? When writer/director Philip Kaufman took over, he changed the story to include the rugged individualist test pilots as a counterpoint to the more elite, well-known astronauts. 

DID YOU KNOW that Chuck Yeager’s historic sound barrier flight was shot on the same Edwards Air Force Base runway in which the actual event occurred in 1947? An exact replica of Yeager’s X-1 rocket plane was constructed for the scene! 

DID YOU KNOW that NASA provided the original mold and blueprints of the Project Mercury capsules to be used for the film’s full-sized duplicates? The movie also features an actual WWII B-29 Superfortress, the only known remaining aircraft of its kind. 

DID YOU KNOW that astronaut John Glenn – played by Ed Harris in the film – was running for president when THE RIGHT STUFF was released? 

DID YOU KNOW that the film’s world premiere in Washington, DC, was a benefit screening for AFI? 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-Director Philip Kaufman called his film “the longest movie ever made without a plot.” Do you agree? What do you think is the film’s primary plot? 

-How would you characterize the film’s genre? 

-Do you think you would have had THE RIGHT STUFF to go into outer space for the first time in history, or try to break the sound barrier? 

-THE RIGHT STUFF has been hailed as both patriotic and as a critical commentary on American society. Are there parts of the movie that make you feel inspired to make change in the world? 

-THE RIGHT STUFF explores aeronautic breakthroughs from over 70 years ago. What are the frontiers of today, and what is “the right stuff” to conquer them? 

-How would you rate THE RIGHT STUFF? 


In this exclusive AFI Archive video, star Ed Harris and Ron Howard talk about THE RIGHT STUFF:

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AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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