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October 12, 1983 - Image 6

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-10-12

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, October 12, 1983

Page 6

Ballot boxes 'Stuffed'?

,<. '

WASHINGTON (AP) - Superman
I-1 got a presidential reception. All the
President's Men drew everybody but
the bad guys. Now The Right Stuff is
opening to an intriguing mixture of
Hollywood hype and Washington
anxiety. The Right Stuff opens locally
October 21.
The hoopla: a Potomac River air
show, movie celebrities rubbing elbows
with political celebrities, a thousand

people dining on medaillon de veau. All
to peddle a movie about pilots and
astronauts.
Enter anxiety, stage left.
Politicians, with no precedent to go
by, wonder what effect the movie's flat-
tering portrait of John Glenn will have
on his presidential chances. The
astronaut-turned-senator-turned-candi-
date may be wondering himself. He
hasn't discussed the film and won't at-

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tend this premier - but he has paid
$50,000 to televise his first national
campaign ad during the prime time the
night before the premiere.
His campaign office said the timing is
just a coincidence.
The American Film Institute, a non-
profit organization that exists to
preserve film and television heritage
and to advance the art, hopes to clear
more than $200,000 from premieres of
the Ladd Company's $2 million ren-
dition of Tom Wolf's paean to test pilots
and astronauts. The movie will have its
Washington premiere Sunday, an
Atlanta premiere Monday and a
Chicago premiere Wednesday.
The Washington kickoff is the big one.
All 1,142 seats in Kennedy Center have
been sold, with ticket prices ranging
from $15 to $25. There have been a
dozen $10,000 contributions.
The Right Stuff tells the story of
America's entry into the space age,
from the sound barrier-busting flights,
of Chuck Yeager through the six flights
of the Mercury astronauts Including
Glenn's historic three orbits. Glenn
comes off on the big screen as an All-
American hero, a bit moralistic, but a
family man concerned about the
astronauts' image.
In one of the most effective scenes,
Glenn's wife Annie, a stutterer, wants
to keep Vice President Lyndon Johnson
out of her house while Glenn is on his
history-making flight. Johnson, fuming
outside the house, applies pressure
through NASA; Glenn backs up Annie.
Actor Ed Harris plays Glenn as a'
God-fearing, steel-willed patriot given
to saying things like, "I just thank God I
live in a country where the best and
finest in a man can be brought out." He
knows he's a gung-ho type and once
asks Annie, "You think I'm a Dudley
Do-right?" Mrs. Glenn nods her head;
yes.
In the large cast, only Yeager comes

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The new movie 'The Right Stuff' concerns the pioneering space venture of the Mercury astronauts (left to right) Deke
Slayton (Scott Paulin), Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), Scott Carpenter (Charles Frank), Wally Schirra (Lance
Henriksen), and John Glenn (Ed Harris). Inset: Ed Harris as John Glenn.

off looking better than Glenn.
Yeager, who plays a barfly in the
movie, and four of the Mercury
astronauts will be guests - along with
their actor doubles - at a dinner Satur-
day for the companies that contributed
$10,000 or more to AFL.
That $10,000 buys, for 10 people, din-
ner, a seat at the movie in the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts, and en-
trance to a gala to be held in a hangar at
National Airport, where the Air Force
band will play and there will be a buffet
featuring the veal. For $5,000, con-
tributors will get six theater tickets, six
tickets to the gala and a brunch in the
plush executive offices of USA 'Today
across the Potomac River from
Washington.
That brunch ought to afford a

tremendous view of a 2-plane aerial
parade down the Potomac. The
military aircraft, dating back to World
War II, will fly at 1,500 feet. In the lead,
flying a P-51 Mustang, will be retired
Air Force Brig. gen. Yeager - the first
and arguably the best hero in the
movie.
Walter Cronkite, the television
newsman most identified with the
space program, is the master of
ceremonies at the Kennedy Center
showing. Mercury astronauts Scott
Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally
Schirra and Deke Slayton will be there.
While this is going on at the Kennedy
Center, two theaters in midtown
Washington will show the film for free
in what is called "a people's premiere."
The Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts.and

organizations that help underprivileged
people have been given free tickets, in-
cluding some for the gala.
All this to promote a movie that is
three hours 10 minutes long, starring
some spectacular flying machinery and
people whose lives involve pudknockers
beginners, hanging their hides over the
edge going beyond the bounds of
safety, and climbing the pyramid
moving up after meeting a challenge.
Wolfe said the right stuff was quality
that "was never named. .. nor was it4
talked about in any way." And yet, he
said, the world was divided into those
who had it and those who didn't.
Glenn, one of those who did, will be
fulfilling previous engagements in San
Diego and San Francisco on
Washington's Right Stuff weekend. But
members of his staff have bought seats.

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Records
The Moody Blues - 'The
Present' (Threshold)
Remember the 70's? Ah, that in-
nocent age, when only groups like
Tangerine Dream used synthesizers
and music was something you listened
to, instead of watched on TV. Well, now
the Moody Blues come along with yet
another LP, The Present which, not
surprisingly, strongly evokes the '70s.
This is not surprising because since
their landmark 1967 album Days of
Future Passed, their style has hardly
changed at all.
In playing the same stuff for fifteen
years, they've become remarkably
good at it. Side one of The Present is
surely some of the Moodies' best work
in recent memory, and made me feel
like I was in seventh grade again. The
one indisputable gem is "Sitting at the
Wheel", which has already seen plenty
of air time, and, like 1981's "The
Voice," deserves to become a smash
hit. John Lodge's vocals are boosted by
Graeme Edge's furiously pounding
drums, and everything is swept along
by Patrick Moraz' swirling keyboards.

The lyrics are simple but effective, and
the song has enough hooks in it to stay
interesting for five and a half minutes.
This one tune alone might be worth the
album's price.
The rest of side one works effectively
in the same vein. Justin Hayward's
"Blue World" opens the album in a
good way, with Lodge's riffing bass and
some nice keyboard ripples from Moraz
providing a good setting for the
mystical, if dumb, lyrics. (Remember
when everyone used to write songs with
dumb, mystical lyrics?)
"Meet my Halfway" continues in the
same style, though with less rock and
more ethereal whooshes from Moraz.
The dreamlike chorus sounds like ELO
around Out of the Blue - 1977. Closing
the side is Edge's "Going Nowhere," a
truly fine ballad which is utterly ruined
by Ray Thomas' dverdramatic, Neil
Diamond-ish vocal. The lyrics, simple,
intelligent, and a little on the sugary
side('ve got a heart full of giving/
Going nowhere, going nowhere)
would have been far better served by
the more delicate voices of Lodge or
Hayward, not Thomas' quasi-
psychedelic drone.

I

The Moody Blues have a slightly new look and definitely a new album, 'The

Present.'
Despite these minor flaws, side one
offers a lot of promise. Unfortunately,
the Moodies only chose to make half an
album. Put bluntly, side two sucks. It
gets off to an OK start with the brief in-
strumental "Hole in the World," which
leads into the awful "Under My Feet,"
a plodding, stupid, overdone ballad,

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courtesy of Lodge. "It's Cold Outside of
Your Heart" is even worse - it sounds
more suited to Chicago. Hayward's
pretty vocal can't even come close to
saving this one.
Yet another ballad, "Running
Water," is next; and it isn't nearly so
terrible. Again, Hayward shines, and
the string arrangements are well done.
The worst is saved for last. Thomas' "I
Am" is a bit of shitty poetry that would
have embarrassed the Doors, and it's
only ruined further by his lousy singing
and hideous orchestration. "Sorry,"
also by Thomas, is more of the same
garbage, enlivened only by a nice
flute/keyboard instrumental break.
Pip Williams deserves notice for his
near-flawless production here, although,
his orchestrations are often clumsy.'
Still, with all the textures and in-
struments the Moodies use, he's kept
the sounds distinct and clear. The
Present would have been far more
satisfying, however, if the Moodies had
'been able to keep that seventies spirit
alive through two sides, instead of just
one. -Jeff Segal
J.J. Cale -J.J.#
(PolyGram)
Old J.J. churns out another one, and
it sounds...consistent. For me, Cale is
a mix of Randy Bachman, Eric Clap-
ton, Willie Nelson, and Lou Reed; not
necessarily an appealing combo, but I
could listen to these
slide/acoustic/electric guitars till *25.
And who else has the audacity (blind,
stubbprn, purposeful) to moan in his
best gruffness, "I've got teardrops in
my Tequila/Got Colorado, got en
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