The Right Stuff, 1983
With the passing of Tom Wolfe this week, I am reminded of the one film made from his books that really captured the essence of his writing. The Right Stuff had all of the history, drama, charm, humor and cultural observation that Wolfe was known for. This book had a running theme of Samurai, who were lavished upon and lauded, even given a funeral before they even did what they were trained to do. In this parallel, the Mercury Seven where treated like rock stars, as our answer to Russia’s space program, they were given cars and large advances by Life Magazine, etc.
The film was a box office bomb in 1983. I didn’t even see it until it came out on VHS. But it is infinitely watchable for me, as Tom Wolfe was writing in his early books about “history” that was too new to be included in our current history books.
Much like Electric Koolaid Acid Test, this book was speaking not only about the events but the surrounding cultural climate that shaped their significance. I was also heavily influenced by The Painted Word, From Bauhaus to Our House and The Bonfire of the Vanities: A Novel.