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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Right Stuff [Blu-ray]


(Philip Kaufman, 1983)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: The Ladd Company

Video: Warner Bros.



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:12:43.760

Disc Size: 44,408,692,266 bytes

Feature Size: 44,065,019,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.49 Mbps

Chapters: 46

Case: 40-page Digi-book Blu-ray case

Release date: November 5th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1473 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1473 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB)

Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
* Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, none


Extras: (second disc DVD)

• The Journey and the Mission Audio Commentary with select scenes by cast (24:30), by filmmakers (24:30)

• Documentaries (Realizing the Right Stuff (21:06), T-20 Years and Counting (11:29), The Real Men with The Right Stuff (15:31)

• Additional Scenes (10:55)

• Interactive Timeline to Space

• John Glenn: American Hero (1:26:36)

Theatrical Trailer (3:33)

Digi-book (40-pages_ with color photos etc.) and a letter from director Philip Kaufman





Description: The time was the late 1940s. World War II had just ended and the United States was entering into a new kind of war, a Cold War. New technology and the development of high-speed aircraft became one of the centerpieces of this new kind of conflict. The race to space between the United States and the Soviet Union had just begun. Adapted from Tom Wolfe's best-selling book, The Right Stuff tells the heroic story of Chuck Yeager (the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound), the Flying Fraternity and the Mercury Astronauts - the first Americans in space. The bravery and daring exploits of these men captured the imagination of the American public during the 1940s and 1950s,and The Right Stuff re-creates these breathtaking events in emotionally riveting and suspenseful detail.



The Film:

Covering some 15 years, The Right Stuff recounts the formation of America's space program, concentrating on the original Mercury astronauts. Scott Glenn plays Alan Shepard, the first American in space; Fred Ward is Gus Grissom, the benighted astronaut for whom nothing works out as planned; and Ed Harris is John Glenn, the straight-arrow "boy scout" of the bunch who was the first American to orbit the earth. The remaining four Mercury boys are Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin), Scott Carpenter (Charles Frank), Wally Schirra (Lance Henriksen) and Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid). Wolfe's original book related in straightforward fashion the dangers and frustrations facing the astronauts (including Glenn's oft-repeated complaint that it's hard to be confident when you know that the missile you're sitting on has been built by the lowest bidder), the various personal crises involving their families (Glenn's wife Annie, a stutterer, dreads being interviewed on television, while Grissom's wife Betty, angered that her husband is not regarded as a hero because his mission was a failure, bitterly declares "I want my parade!"), and the schism between the squeaky-clean public image of the Mercury pilots and their sometimes raunchy earthbound shenanigans.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

From the opening moments it is clear that we have the nearest modern equivalent to a Western: men of quiet virtue going skyward, leaving the tawdry world of log-rolling politicians behind. John Ford might have made it, and director Kaufman matches up to the master of this kind of poetic hero worship. Beginning with Chuck Yeager's breaking of the sound barrier in the late '40s, he uses the great test pilot as a counterpoint to the training and eventual missions of the seven astronauts chosen for America's first space programme. Kaufman (like Tom Wolfe, whose book The Right Stuff this is taken from) is well enough aware of the media circus surrounding the whole project, but still celebrates his magnificent seven's heroism with a rhetoric that is respectful and irresistible.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Right Stuff arrives in 1080P from Warner and the lengthy film is housed on a lone Blu-ray disc sharing with no extras (that all appear on a second DVD).  The image is transferred in 1.78:1 and looks exceptionally clean.  This is, obviously, dual-layered and is presented with a modest bitrate. Colors seem brighter and truer than SD could with skin tones retaining some warmth. Contrast exhibits decent black levels that support some pleasing detail - notable in close-ups. The stock black + white footage (Yeager etc.) doesn't overly grain-up and is slightly pictureboxed. It doesn't look totally out-of-place. This Blu-ray has a consistent feel not really escalating the HD highest levels.  Still - the depth is pleasing and the higher resolution appears to bring out the best in the adept art direction - representing the time period with impressive precision. This Blu-ray does its job reasonably well - but with such a visually impressive film expectations can extend beyond the original productions' capabilities. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the video.

















Audio :

Warner include a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround at a modest 1473 kbps. I'd say it was a little underwhelming but still seemed to export some minor separations to the rear speakers. I didn't get much of a sense of depth although this uncompressed was certainly in advance of the last SD. The score by the impressive Bill Conti (Rocky, Harry and Tonto, For Your Eyes Only) may have received the most benefit sounding quite epic and noble at times. There are multiple foreign-language DUBs and subtitle options verifying that my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

NOTE: this is reported to be newly-encoded with 96k upsampling (like Baraka) - although this reviewer didn't find it dynamically notable. Originally it was 48kHz fidelity (ex. Baraka was actually recorded at 96k) but I wasn't overly impressed with this upsampling (my software did not even indicate), however I don't dispute that this is the best it has ever sounded!


Extras :

We get extras mostly seen on the last 2-disc DVD Special Edition (2003) - on a second disc DVD included in the Blu-ray Digi-book. This includes the two 25-minute select-scene commentaries entitled 'The Journey and the Mission' with a combination of both the cast and a second with the filmmakers. The three documentaries remain - Realizing the Right Stuff (21:06), T-20 Years and Counting (11:29), and The Real Men with The Right Stuff (15:31). These overlap a bit but are interesting from a historical standpoint. There are 10-minutes of, mostly inconsequential, additional scenes, the 1.5 hour John Glenn: American Hero video piece that is chock-full of information, a trailer and an 'Interactive Timeline to Space' that you can click thru. The package itself has a 40-page Digi-book with beautiful color photos etc. and there is a 'letter from director Philip Kaufman'.


DVD of Supplements


Still a fabulous, riveting film. The Right Stuff has so much going for it from the educational aspects, the incredible cast and Kaufman's adroit storytelling. I could watch it every few years and still get the same thrill. The Warner Blu-ray provides a pretty sweet presentation and expands the 'awe' factor of the film. What a pleasure - a 3 1/4 hour film that you wish was longer! Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

October 28th, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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