Philip KaufmanUSA192 minutes1983ColourEnglish
Stirring and sardonic in equal measure, Philip Kaufman's adaptation of the Tom Wolfe bestseller depicts the birth of the Mercury space program as both a comedy of errors and a thrilling adventure epic. Sam Shepard embodies legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager, whose breaking of the sound barrier in 1947 heralded the age of supersonic flight; a decade later, a group of eager young hopefuls (including Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Scott Glenn and Lance Henriksen) vie to open new frontiers as the first Americans in space, battling bureaucracy, the media, each other, and the perils of the cosmic unknown. The flying sequences, which contain special effects work from the great avant-garde filmmaker Jordan Belson, are some of the most spectacular ever put on screen. "One of the great American films" (Roger Ebert).