Beside being one of rock & roll’s finest drummers in one of its most important and greatest bands, Levon Helm was a capable actor, too. Anyone who’s seen The Last Waltz, can’t help notice his charisma. Coupled with his mellifluous Arkansas drawl, it won him important parts in Coalminer’s Daughter, and The Right Stuff, among other films.
In the latter, he played real-life Col. Jack Ridley, a test pilot, gum-chewer, and whom later became chief of the Air Force’s Flight Test Engineering Laboratory.
Chuck Yeager, who became the first person to break the sound-barrier in the X-1 rocket-plane, called Ridley “The brains behind the whole X-1 test program”. He was renowned for his superb engineering and problem-solving skills. Here, in this scene from the movie, Ridley fashions up a way for Yeager to pilot the craft with a broken arm.
What I love about the scene is Helm giving a hint at 1:10 as to his day job.