On Thanksgiving Night in 1976, the legendary rock group known simply as The Band said farewell to touring with a party at San Francisco’s legendary Winterland Ballroom. 5,000 turkey dinners were served. There was ballroom dancing and a poetry reading.
As an action film, Shooter is made with great professionalism, using top flight actors and superb production values. None of this disguises the fact that the story is assembled out of well-used spare parts from other movies, not all of which fit together neatly. What emerges is a Frankenstein’s monster that photographs extremely well.
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.