[[caption-width-right:350:Behold the TropeCodifier for PowerWalk.]]
->''"Who's the best pilot you ever saw?"''

A 1983 [[TheFilmOfTheBook adaptation]] of Tom Wolfe's best-selling book, about the attempt to break the sound barrier and the subsequent [[UsefulNotes/TheSpaceRace Space Race]]. Briefly considered to be a campaign promo for John Glenn's presidential aspirations in 1984, but it actually didn't help much. It received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and one for Sam Shepard for Best Supporting Actor and won four.

This was a breakout role for many now-established actors: Creator/ScottGlenn (unless you count ''Urban Cowboy''), Creator/DennisQuaid (unless you count ''Breaking Away''), Fred Ward (unless you count ''Escape from Alcatraz''), and Creator/EdHarris (unless you count ''Knightriders''). Additionally, Music/SamShepard never worked too hard to advance his acting career, but if he can be said to have a breakout role, this is it: he was nominated for an Oscar.

Although the movie is centered around the men and their fast, expensive, and dangerous toys, the women in the movie receive a great deal of character development, from Pancho and Nurse Murch to all of the astronaut's wives.

Interesting trivia: the actor named Glenn played Shepard, and the actor named Shepard played Yeager. Glenn was played by ... the actor named Harris.

Not to be confused with the {{Anime}} online store ''[[http://www.rightstuf.com The Right Stuf]]'', which has one "F". Or the song by Music/NewKidsOnTheBlock.

!!This film provides examples of:
* TheAce: Pretty much half the cast given what the movie is about, but Chuck Yeager manages to stand out as the "Ace of Aces."
* AcePilot: Figuratively ''everyone'', but literally Chuck Yeager, who had 10 aerial victories in WWII.
* AnachronismStew: Although most of the film [[ShownTheirWork is good with the history]], the first reconnaissance film shown to the White House briefing room after Sputnik suffers a bit from this. It includes footage of a Soyuz rocket, which was first launched four years after the date range of this film. It also mentions the first two cosmonauts, Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov. Russia wouldn't even select their first batch of cosmonauts until 1960, almost a full year after the Mercury Seven were chosen.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: [[UsefulNotes/LyndonJohnson LBJ's]] quote as UsefulNotes/TheSpaceRace part began. "The Romans ruled the world because they could build roads" is arguable, leaning towards false. But "the British ruled the world because they had ships" and "we won the war because we had planes" is downright absurd. However, that line was lifted nearly verbatim from LBJ's own words.
* AwesomeMcCoolname: When Cooper and Grissom are talking about whether they should apply for the space program, Grissom asks what "astronaut" actually means. Cooper tells him it means "star voyager," and they both clearly think that sounds awesome.
* TheBartender: The real-life Pancho Barnes is worth a movie all by herself, and all she got was a made-for-TV piece of junk starring, of all people, Valerie Bertinelli.
%%* BattleaxeNurse: Nurse Murch.
* BerserkButton: John Glenn is incredibly mild-mannered . . . unless you pick on his wife.
%%* BiggerIsBetter: the Atlas rocket.
* BugBuzz: The sound of locusts are played in the background of scenes that involve the Permanent Press Corps.
* CatchPhrase: "Who's the best pilot you ever saw?"; "Hey Ridley, got any Beeman's?"; "No bucks, no Buck Rogers"; "Fucking-A Bubba"; "My name Jose Jimenez"; "One hundred percent;" etc.
* CentrifugalFarce: The "Vomit Comet". In a rare example of being used for its intended purpose, the centrifuge appears as part of astronaut training.
* ChekhovsGun: The conversation the Mercury 7 have with the scientists about having a window, manual controls and explosive bolts. Later on all three become an important part of at least one flight.
%%* {{Chiaroscuro}}: used to good effect in the cabinet room.
* CombatByChampion: Discussed. The Mercury Seven are essentially America's champions against the Soviets on the battlefield of the Space Race.
* CoolPlane: Oodles, including the X-1, the first plane to break the sound barrier.
* CrypticBackgroundReference: During the X-1 flight, Yeager has a line that seems like a throwaway: "Hey, Ridley. Make a little note here, would ya? ''Elevator effectiveness regained.''" Nothing else is mentioned about it. However, in earlier RealLife prep flights of the X-1, Yeager had noticed that when approaching Mach 1, the plane's elevator controls would go all wonky. He and Jack Ridley worked for weeks on modifying the plane's elevator system to overcome the issue. Yeager's note that the elevator was working was a signal to Ridley that he was ready to take his shot at pushing past Mach 1.
* DangerDeadpan: The original. The real Yeager makes a cameo as well (see RealPersonCameo below).
* ADateWithRosiePalms: Only in this movie could they do this to the dueling tunes of "From the Halls of Montezuma" and "Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder."
* DeathNotification: The widow of a test pilot cowers in fear from the [[SinisterMinister black-clad priest]] sent to inform her of her husband's death.
* DidIJustSayThatOutLoud: "Dear Lord, please don't let me fuck up."
* DoNotCallMePaul:
-->'''Life Magazine publisher Henry Luce:''' Now, I want them all to meet my people who will write their true stories, Naturally these stories will appear in Life magazine under their own bylines: For example, "by Betty Grissom", or "by Virgil I. Grissom", or...\\
'''Gus Grissom:''' Gus!\\
'''Luce:''' What was that?\\
'''Grissom:''' Gus. Nobody calls me by... that other name.\\
'''Luce:''' Gus? An astronaut named "Gus?" What's your middle name?\\
'''Grissom:''' [[RedScare Ivan]].\\
'''Luce:''' Ivan... ahem... well. Maybe Gus isn't so bad. Might be something there.... All right, all right. You can be Gus.
* DudeWheresMyReward: Betty Grissom. She spends much of the movie dreaming about the big payoff she'll eventually get from the military for all those years of her sacrifices and Gus's heroics. When the grand payoff for Gus's space flight (that almost got him drowned) turns out to be [[spoiler: a cheap motel room with some beer in the fridge]], she has a conniption.
%%* {{Eagleland}}: Unapologetically Type 1.
* EverybodyKnewAlready: Twice a character runs down the hall to inform the meeting of a Soviet advance. Both times they knew already.
* FauxlosophicNarration: The beginning narration, which poetically describes the sound barrier as a "demon that lives in the air."
* FeeFiFauxPas: "I bet you're gonna hang our picture on your wall."
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Cooper sinking the model capsule in his drink foreshadows what happens to Grissom during his rescue.
* FreudianTrio:
-->'''The Air Force pilots''': Cooper (Id), Grissom (Ego), and Slayton (Superego).
-->'''The Navy pilots''': Glenn (Superego), Shepard (Id), and Schirra (Ego). Carpenter is also a Superego, but it is Glenn and Shepard who clash the most.
* FriendlyRivalry: Chuck Yeager and Scott Crossfield. When they're not trying to break each other's records, they're usually drinking together at Pancho's.
* FriendshipMoment: Almost simultaneously, the astronauts when Glenn's mission is threatened, and the wives when Vice-President Johnson wants to interview Annie Glenn.
* FunetikAksent: "A ''pot''?" "A ''spaceman''?" "A ''jimp''?"
* GenreSavvy: The reporter "knows" that the clean-cut group spokesman Glenn is going to be the first in space. Turns out that he's only half right.
* GoshdangItToHeck: Ed Harris plays this to the hilt as John Glenn. Even when he wants to curse, he can't bring himself to do it.
-->'''John Glenn''': ''Let's ffff....''\\
'''Gus Grissom''': ''Fuckin' A, bubba.''\\
'''John Glenn''': ''That's right! Exactly!''
* TheGrimReaper: Listed in the credits as "Minister."
* HeroOfAnotherStory: Wally Schirra (played by Lance Henriksen), who helped clear Grissom's name by blowing his capsule's hatch ''on purpose.'' [[note]]To blow the hatch, the astronaut had to smack a very heavy switch that kicked back when the explosive bolts fired, which left a nasty bruise on Schirra's hand. Grissom's hand didn't have a bruise.[[/note]] In the film, he's probably the most forgettable of the seven astronauts, and one of two whose flight isn't even shown (the other being Scott Carpenter).
* HomageShot
* InsistentTerminology:
** That... is a ''spacecraft''. We do not refer to it as a "capsule." It's a ''spacecraft''. Similarly, the astronauts are not "occupants" of the spacecraft, but ''pilots''.
** As a form of InterserviceRivalry: the Air Force has pilots, the Navy has ''aviators.''
* InterserviceRivalry: While scouting for astronaut candidates, the Recruiters mention that Navy [[InsistentTerminology Aviators]] consider themselves better than mere "pilots." Similarly, Cooper, Grissom, and Slayton boast that none of the Navy "swabbos" can measure up to their Air Force piloting skills.
* JumpedAtTheCall: John Glenn is informed that the Soviets have put Gherman Titov into orbit for an entire day.
--> '''Head of Program:''' The Free World needs a man in orbit, John, [[UsefulNotes/TheSpaceRace or it's all over]]. So, we're scrapping the Redstone rocket and we're going with the Atlas. You know what that means. [[StuffBlowingUp We haven't had too much luck with that rocket]], John. We're not going to be able to take all the precautions we'd like. It's going to be extremely dangerous....
--> '''Glenn:''' ''[cutting him off]'' We're ready.
--> '''Head of Program:''' I said it's going to be extremely dangerous.
--> '''Glenn:''' I SAID WE'RE READY! [[CatchPhrase A hundred percent!]]
* LargeHam: Donald Moffat gives what may be the most over-the-top screen portrayal of LBJ. "You know what the Russians want?"
-->'''LBJ:''' ''[[VillainousBreakdown ISN'T THERE ANYBODY WHO CAN DEAL WITH A HOUSEWIFE?!]]''
* LethallyExpensive: While the two White House staffers are showing the film of the Soviet space program.
-->'''White House Staffer #1:''' This footage was assembled from souces operating under cover at great risk.\\
'''White House Staffer #2:''' ''Very'' great.\\
'''White House Staffer #1:''' We're fortunate this material didn't perish... with a couple of men.
* LieBackAndThinkOfEngland: When John Glenn has to masturbate for a sperm sample, he hums the Marine Corps Anthem -- for, uh -- ''inspiration''. Cooper then starts humming the Air Force anthem. InterserviceRivalry at its finest.
* {{MacGyvering}}: The sawed-off broom handle. According to Yeager's autobiography, 100% true.
* MagicalNativeAmerican: Well, [[UsefulNotes/AustralianAborigines Native Australian]]. You may well ask what they're doing in the movie.
* MeaningfulFuneral: At the beginning, to underscore the dangerous nature of the test pilots' work.
* MissingManFormation: At the funeral, above.
* MissionControl: Literally. And they are [[AndMissionControlRejoiced rejoicing]] twice.
* MoodWhiplash: A montage of NASA rockets exploding ends with a rocket blowing its top off...with an incredibly dissonant cork-popping sound effect.
* NegatedMomentOfAwesome: In both real life and discussed in the film, Chuck Yeager was passed over for the space program. Despite being someone who is now considered to be one of the greatest pilots in the history of aviation, NASA was looking for college graduates. Yeager never attended college, nor West Point or Annapolis, but instead was an enlisted man recruited as a pilot, and therefore field-commissioned... after being turned down three times by promotion board because of a court-martial on his enlisted record. Could anybody imagine how utterly awesome it would've been had Chuck Yeager become an astronaut?[[note]]Hopefully he wouldn't have been one of the ones in the Apollo 1 fire, though.[[/note]]
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: The head German engineer of NASA and the "Soviet Chief Designer" are meant to be portrayals of Wernher Von Braun and Sergei Korolev respectively. Although in Korolev's case, not knowing or revealing his name would've been TruthInTelevision, since his identity was a state secret until his death, while Von Braun was literally a celebrity in America thanks to Creator/WaltDisney.
* NoNameGiven: The above-mentioned "Minister"; the "Recruiters" (Creator/JeffGoldblum and Creator/HarryShearer); "Liaison Man" (David Clennon from ''Series/{{Thirtysomething}}''); the mysterious Head of the Space Program (and his even more mysterious Soviet counterpart[[note]]Serious TruthInTelevision on that one; Sergei Korolev was a ''very'' deep secret in the Soviet Union[[/note]]); the "Permanent Press Corps"; etc. etc.
* OldMediaAreEvil: The press corps are not portrayed in a very flattering light.
* OnSecondThought: "Gus" may not be such a bad name after all, considering the alternative "Ivan".
* OtherStockPhrases: The book actually popularized the terms "screw the pooch" and "pushing the envelope" in pop culture.
* OutOfTheInferno: Yeager, after crashing the F-104.
-->"Is that a man?"\\
"Yeah, you damn right it is!
** Yeager's face looking like someone had taken a blowtorch to it [[ShownTheirWork actually happened]] in the RealLife event. He spent a long time afterward undergoing burn treatments.
* {{Paparazzi}}: You'll notice a locust/rattlesnake noise whenever reporters appear - this is intentional because the reporters are acting like this.
* PottyEmergency: "Gordo, I have to urinate," followed by a montage of fire hoses, coffee pouring, water coolers, etc., after which Shepard declares, through painfully clenched teeth, "Request permission to relieve bladder."
* PowerWalk: The TropeCodifier.
* PragmaticAdaptation: A less-than-500-page book turns into a 3+ hour movie, but it's still actually an AdaptationDistillation. Two of the six Mercury flights (Carpenter's and Schirra's) aren't shown at all, and we only see the end of Grissom's and the beginning of Cooper's. There's no mention of what happened with Deke Slayton, despite the fact that he became one of the pivotal figures in space exploration. Plus, the book goes into great detail about the dangers of Navy flight ops, and that only gets 30 seconds in the film. Etc. etc...
* RatedMForManly: Badass pilots become Badass astronauts. And the ballsiest coolest pilot that couldn't make the space program - Yeager - still shows us how a man walks away from a burning wreck.
* RealPersonCameo: "You fellas want some whiskey?"[[note]]In case you didn't get it, that was a cameo by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Yeager Brig. Gen. Charles Elwood Yeager]][[/note]]
* RedScare: "Pretty soon they'll be dropping bombs on us like rocks from a highway overpass!"
* ReentryScare: Justified, in that this actually happened on John Glenn's flight.
* TheReveal: The long shot of the astronaut walking out to the first Mercury spacecraft, doesn't show that it's Alan Shepard until he's in the capsule. Of course this is the CaptainObviousReveal if you knew that already.
* SemperFi: John Glenn, "Mr. Clean the Marine."
* ShownTheirWork: Wolfe was meticulous about getting the details right in his book, so the movie makers had an easy job of it. There's bits of ArtisticLicense here and there, but that's all.
** In the scene where the Mercury Seven are first introduced, and they're asked who will be the first of them in space, John Glenn really did raise both his hands.
** In addition to the events in MacGyvering and OutOfTheInferno, Chuck Yeager also attests to [[https://twitter.com/GenChuckYeager/status/776534558246248449 what was depicted for his first Mach 2 flight.]]
* ShroudedInMyth: The sound barrier, literally shrouded in clouds, which turns out to be not so big a deal.
* SpeechImpededLoveInterest: Annie Glenn, John Glenn's wife, has a really bad stutter which turns out to be central to the plot, mainly through her adamantly refusing to be interviewed by the press due to a fear of public speaking. She ''very'' successfully completed therapy for it in 1973.
* ThereAreTwoKindsOfPeopleInTheWorld: The bartender notes that they "got two categories of pilots around here: your prime pilots that get all the hot planes, and your pudknockers who dream about getting the hot planes."
* StuffBlowingUp:
** Towards the middle of the film there's a reel of rockets exploding. Justified as it showed the US hadn't exactly perfected the science of rocketry just yet.
** When Glenn agreed to make the first US manned orbital flight, he accepted the risk of sitting atop an Atlas rocket. The failure rate of the vehicle at the time was ''forty percent''.
* SurvivalMantra:
** John Glenn is shown humming "Battle Hymn of the Republic" during his (potentially fatal) re-entry, something the real Glenn did not do.
** Shepard's repeated "I'm OK" during his re-entry.
* TickertapeParade: After completing his mission, John Glenn gets one of those in Manhattan.
* TitleDrop:
** One of the agents mentions the phrase when referring to the test pilot camp in the Californian desert.
-->"They got some kind of brotherhood. They think they got the right stuff."
** Averted at the last second towards the end...
-->''[Interviewer asks Gordo Cooper, "who's the best pilot you ever saw?"]''
-->'''Gordo''': There is one pilot who I think truly did have The Right ... ''[interrupted by a barrage of interview questions]''
* TrainingFromHell: Simply ''applying'' for the program put the subjects through all kinds of nastiness. Since it was still unclear at the time as to what kinds of stresses astronauts would face on a mission, [=NASA=] figured the best option was to stress the applicants in every way they could think of and see who kept coming back for more.
* TrueCompanions: Just watch the astronauts, and their wives, rally around each other against a NASA administrator and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome a vice president who's trying to score political points]].
* UnfortunateName: Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom. Not only was [[DoNotCallMePaul his first name]] ''[[DoNotCallMePaul personally]]'' [[DoNotCallMePaul embarrassing]], but [[EmbarrassingMiddleName his middle name would have been a]] ''[[RedScare propaganda]]'' [[EmbarrassingMiddleName embarrassment]]. This IS the UsefulNotes/ColdWar [[UsefulNotes/TheSpaceRace Space Race]], after all.
* VisionQuest: The old aborigine has apparently had a few. Gordo rolls with it.
-->'''Aborigine:''' Who are you?\\
'''Gordon "Gordo" Cooper:''' Me? I'm an... I'm an astronaut.\\
'''Aborigine:''' Astronaut?\\
'''Gordo:''' Yeah.\\
'''Aborigine:''' Well, what you do here, astronaut?\\
'''Gordo:''' I came up here because a buddy of mine is getting ready to fly overhead, up in outer space. I'll be talking to him on that dish.\\
'''Aborigine:''' Fly over? You blokes do that too?\\
'''Gordo:''' You do that yourself?\\
'''Aborigine:''' Not me, mate. See that old bloke there? He know. He know the moon. He know the star. And he know the Milky Way. He'll give you a hand. He know.\\
'''Gordo:''' We'll sure need all the help we can get.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: After Grissom's flight and the immediate aftermath, whether he was at-fault for the hatch blowing and losing the spacecraft is never addressed. [[note]] In RealLife it was unlikely that Grissom was at-fault. Kickback from the manual activation switch caused a tell-tale bruise to form on the hand activating it, and Grissom never developed the bruise. Schirra, at the end of his flight, deliberately activated his own hatch to demonstrate how the bruise formed and exonerate his comrade. The most likely explanation for Grissom's hatch blowing is that the ''external'' release lanyard came loose as it was only held in place with a single screw -- a design that was changed to be more secure for subsequent flights. [=NASA=] apparently believed in Grissom's innocence as well, as he remained in a prime rotation spot for subsequent Gemini and Apollo flights. There is also significant belief among astronauts of the time that, had he not been killed in the Apollo 1 fire, Grissom would have been the first man to walk on the moon.[[/note]]