Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: “Hey, Ridley, ya got any Beeman’s?”

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Being that my duo post partner Rachel and I resume our annual book/movie series next week, might as well do the same for this. Using the specific film we will launch with, one some would say was criminally neglected first-run, for this memory download. I’m an opportunist at heart. Let the countdown begin:

“There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.”


The Century Plaza Cinemas:




October 15, 1983: If I have a penchant for anything, with regard to cinema, it’s that over the decades I’ve sat in a bunch of darkened movie theaters (sometimes with only a wisp of fellow ticket-holders seated in the same hall for company) with films that didn’t get much acclaim upon initial release. Many times, critics and movie-goers were right to avoid them. I can sure pick’em, alright. Still, there were some overlooked grain among the chaff. Trouble was, it’d take years, decades even, before others would come around and take note of what had slipped by them.

At times, I thought I somehow jinxed the dang film. “Well, here’s another one of those I’m watching all by my lonesome.” Sometimes gazing at others walking out way before the end-credits landed. Didn’t help that some of these happened during preview screenings. More than a year before, once again at the Century Plaza Cinemas for a movie preview before its official release, I sat in almost the same seat to catch what’s likely the poster-child for this predilection of mine. That film left me slack-jawed and stunned. This autumn evening I’d have none of that.

Just mesmerized.

Back I was in Century City. All by myself. For a movie, based upon a book I’d heard of, but had not read. She-whose-name-is-not-to-be-uttered working yet another evening shift at a nearby hospital. As usual, with the movie previews during this time, the screening for The Right Stuff had a mix of young couples and old folk (a term I’m creeping up on, come to think of it), plus the weird likes of me. The former (some leaving by the time Yeager climbed into that Lockheed NF-104A aircraft) unprepared for the subject matter, which many of the latter knew better of by way of history lived, or having read the source.

Those that left missed something truly great.

The entire series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

22 Responses to “TMT: “Hey, Ridley, ya got any Beeman’s?””

  1. jackdeth72

    Hi, Michael:

    Great choice for a deep critique!

    Superb ensemble film with its primary cast being dead ringers for America’s original seven astronauts. Great writing and adherence, when possible to Tom Wolfe’s written words. Also notable for very well executed model work with the X-1 and F-104, which had a ram-jet mounted above its engine which acted like an altitude climbing JATO bottle.

    Imagine what those scene would have looked like with today’s much less expensive CGI!

    Oh. And drop by Ruth’s.


  2. broadandhigh

    My boss at the time gave me a copy of the book for Christmas. That book rekindled in me an almost forgotten love for the space program. I was crazy about the movie although there is something about actress Barbara Hershey that always makes me want to find something better to do. But the overall casting was terrific. Scott Glenn, Dennis Quaid, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, et al.


    • le0pard13

      I finally read this! I can see why this would rekindle that feeling for the space program. What an ensemble cast, indeed. Many thanks, Naomi. 🙂


  3. 70srichard

    You know how I feel about the movie. I still can’t believe that it was not the Best Picture that year and that despite getting a second public relations/advertising boost when it was nominated for a bucketload of awards, it still did not resonate with audiences. A crying shame. I can say i saw three different times in it’s theatrical run, and none of those screenings was packed.


    • le0pard13

      I had your wonderful look back on this beautifully crafted film on my mind when Rachel and I scheduled this. Many thanks, Richard.


  4. ruth

    Gosh, I haven’t seen this one yet Michael. I better rectify that situation soon, don’t I? Have a nice weekend man!


  5. Dan

    Another beautifully written memoir of what was surely an incredible experience. Like others, I haven’t see The Right Stuff on the big screen; another in a long line of favorites I wished I could have witnessed in the theater. Re-releases have been kind (Alien, Jaws…) but too few and far between.


  6. Rachel

    I’m really looking forward to giving this a closer look this week. My response to the book was mixed, however the subject matter never disappoints.



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