Remakes are rarely a good idea. Remakes of classics are even less likely to be a good idea. They rarely improve on the original and more often, to be blunt, they suck. But up with it I’m willing to put if it means that, from time to time, we get a remake like this one, which takes everything that was good about the original and turns it around so it is relevant to the present.
How many of you have ever looked up to see a large concentration of crows perched somewhere nearby and the first two words to come to your mind are Alfred Hitchcock? The director’s fourth and final adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier work, as much as any Hitchcock film other than Psycho, has left a vivid and indelible impression on the collective memory of film lovers.
If nothing else, The Right Stuff could go down in history as the movie that could have elected a President. At a time when the Democratic party was looking for a viable candidate to challenge Ronald Reagan in 1984, the image of Ed Harris as John Glenn, the squeaky clean All-American with the can-do attitude filled them with hope that the real former astronaut turned senator could help them re-capture the White House. I think the film may have actually hurt Glenn in the long run. While he was an American hero, a capable senator and probably would have made an able president, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, he’s no Ed Harris, at least not in the charisma department.
Unfortunately, all the focus on political ramifications had nothing to do with the actual film, which seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Too bad, because it’s one of the best films of the 1980s, taking real life personalities and molding them into something like a modern American myth.