The Right Stuff

  • Directors: Philip Kaufman
  • Producers: Irwin Winkler
  • Writers: Philip Kaufman, Tom Wolfe
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, History
  • Actors: Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Sam Shepard, Barbara Hershey, Lance Henriksen, Veronica Cartwright, Jane Dornacker

Muroc Army Air Field in 1947 sets the scene for the start of the movie. This dusty, arid air force base is where high-speed aircraft are being tested in secret including the rocket-powered X-1, poised to fly at supersonic speeds. When a number of test pilots have died in the attempt to break the so-called “sound barrier,” the base liaison officer, war hero Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) is offered the chance to fly the X-1. While on a horseback romp with his wife Glennis (Barbara Hershey) through the underbrush surrounding the base, Yeager collides with a tree branch and suffers a couple of broken ribs. Refusing to admit defeat, he triumphs (with the aid of a sawed-off broom handle) in flying the X-1 faster than the speed of sound, beating the “demon in the sky.”

The film travels forward to 1953, where Edwards Air Force Base (renamed for one of the test pilots killed at the base) remains the place to be for the “prime” pilots with Yeager engaged in a contest with test pilot Scott Crossfield (Scott Wilson).[1] Crossfield and Yeager were fierce but friendly rivals for speed and altitude records. Edwards is both a very different place and yet remains the same with the celebrated Happy Bottom Riding Club run by Pancho Barnes (Kim Stanley) still the gathering place for those with the “right stuff.” New pilots such as Gordon “Gordo” Cooper (Dennis Quaid) and Virgil “Gus” Grissom (Fred Ward) are part of a constant stream of “pudknockers” as Barnes characterizes them. Cooper’s wife, Trudy (Pamela Reed) questions the need for pushing dangerous boundaries to the limit, but is resigned to the fact that her husband like all the others, is driven by ambition as well as chasing fame. Other wives that share similar feelings have to learn to suppress their fears. By that time, the press are a familiar part of the background, recognized as the key to ensuring that essential funding never dries up.

The films concludes with Cooper’s successful launch in May 1963 – the last in which an American flew alone into space.

Management

  • Directors: Stephen Belber
  • Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen
  • Writers: Stephen Belber
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Jennifer Aniston, Steve Zahn, Woody Harrelson, Fred Ward

Management chronicles the chance meeting of Mike Cranshaw (Steve Zahn) and Sue Claussen (Jennifer Aniston) when she checks into the roadside motel owned by Mike’s parents in Arizona. A bottle of wine ‘compliments of management’ jump starts the cross-country journey and unique courtship between two different kinds of people who are both ultimately looking for the same thing – a sense of happiness. Mike sees something special in button downed Sue that inspires him to take a chance and hit the road to go after her. But once he reaches Maryland, he finds that Sue has no place for an aimless dreamer in her carefully ordered life. Obsessed with making a difference in the world, Sue falls back in with her punk-turned-Yogurt mogul ex-boyfriend Jango (Woody Harrelson), who promises her a chance to head his charity operations. But having finally found something worth fighting for, Mike puts his hopes against her practicality and the two embark on a twisted, bumpy, ultimately freeing journey to discover that their place in the world just might be together.

Sweet Home Alabama

  • Directors: Andy Tennant
  • Producers: David Brown, Michael Tolkin
  • Writers: Douglas J Eboch, C Jay Cox
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward, Candice Bergen, Mary Kay Place

The story is a love triangle involving two childhood Alabama sweethearts who married but became estranged, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas) and Melanie Smooter (Reese Witherspoon), and Melanie’s longtime boyfriend Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey).

Melanie is a successful fashion designer. When she becomes engaged to Andrew, the son of the mayor of New York City (Candice Bergen), Melanie announces that she has to go back home alone to Alabama to tell her parents in person. Her private reason is to demand a divorce from Jake. She has not told Andrew that she is still married.

Jake refuses to divorce her until she goes down to the bar and gets really drunk. She begins to spill everyone’s secrets, the more important of them being Bobby Ray’s homosexuality and her pregnancy with Jake that was the cause of their split, which Jake has yet to get over. Jake takes her out of the bar, and refusing to let her drive home in her current state, takes her keys off her, says goodnight to his ‘hot date,’ and drives her home. When she wakes up the next morning, the divorce papers are laying on her bed signed by Jake.

Melanie learns that Jake had once gone to New York City to try to find her, to say sorry and to tell her that he loved her. That night they go to a dance, on her way out she sees the sign saying “dog cemetery.” She goes down to say an emotional goodbye and to apologize to Bear. Jake sees her heading in that direction and slowly makes his way there. Melanie is saying “…I bet you sat there wondering what you had done wrong” and to announce his presence, Jake says “I told him it was my fault.” They proceed to sit down and talk about the baby they lost and have the conversation they should have had years ago had they wanted to stay together for the years in between. Jake gives a blessing for Melanie to have a good life with Andrew, but Melanie says she can’t do it and they kiss. For a moment Jake goes along with it, but he appreciates that they aren’t married anymore and he pushes her away and tells her to go home.

As the credits roll, the audience can see pictures of after the wedding. They see that Melanie and Jake have a little girl, they have opened a shop in a city and are living quite happily together.

Armored

  • Directors:
  • Producers: Sam Raimi, Josh Donen, Dan Farah
  • Writers: James V Simpson
  • Genres: Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Columbus Short, Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich, Fred Ward, Milo Ventimiglia

A young armored car guard named ‘Ty’ (Columbus Short) is persuaded by his veteran cohorts to empty a truck of its $42 million cargo.[3]