Movie Trivia: Stand By Me

I didn't intentionally mean to pick another Rob Reiner film for this week's movie trivia post, but when RiderAng suggested Stand By Me, I knew immediately that I needed to dig it out of our DVD cabinet. Don't worry, though, I'm not in a rut: I think we're going to visit the Coen Brothers next week. But for now, enjoy the Stand By Me trivia.

  • The film was originally called The Body because that was the title of the Stephen King novella the movie was based on. The novella was subtitled "Fall From Innocence."

  • Don't worry: Rob Reiner made all of the kids smoke lettuce leaves, not cigarettes.
  • Jerry O'Connell (Vern) had never really acted before - he had just one commercial under his belt. When he auditioned, he recognized Rob Reiner and said, "Aren't you the guy on channel 5?" At the time, the local channel 5 had been airing reruns of All in the Family at the time and Jerry recognized Rob as Meathead.

  • A lot of the dialogue was taken right out of the novella.

  • John Cusack (Gordie's dead older brother, Denny) was cast because Cusack had just made The Sure Thing with Rob Reiner and the two of them became good friends. Reiner felt certain that Cusack would be able to make a good impression on the audience even though his screen time was very limited.
  • Kiefer Sutherland (Ace) used method acting during his time on the set - he liked to pick on the four younger boys even when the cameras weren't rolling, just to keep the mood flowing. Jerry O'Connell later admitted that he was actually really terrified of Kiefer.

  • When they filmed the scene where Teddy (Corey Feldman) wants to play chicken with the train, the boys were really standing in front of a real, moving locomotive. But they were never in any danger: a long-angle lens was used to make it look like train was a lot closer than it actually was. The same technique was used in the scene where Vern and Gordie (Wil Wheaton) almost get run over by the train.

  • Incidentally, the reason the kids are crying during that scene is because Rob Reiner yelled at them. They had done the take over and over and the actors wouldn't cry; the guys operating the cameras and the dollies were getting tired from running alongside the kids and filming them. Reiner started yelling that everyone was sick and tired of doing this scene because these kids wouldn't do their jobs, and that was all it took. Once it was over, the kids were thrilled that they were finally able to cry and everyone made up.

  • In the book, Chris Chambers (River Phoenix in the film) references other Stephen King fictional spots - at one point, he says something about how towns often have stupid names, such as the nearby Jerusalem's Lot. Also in the novella, Teddy says something about not getting sent to "The 'Shank," which is, of course, Shawshank Penitentiary from The Shawshank Redemption.

  • Likewise, characters from The Body are referenced in other Stephen King books. For instance, in Carrie, an Amoco gas station was once owned by Teddy Duchamp. And bad greaser dude Ace Merrill meets his maker in Needful Things.

  • Wil Wheaton had to fake like he was running slower than River Phoenix in the junkyard race scene; in reality he was a lot faster than River.

  • Rob Reiner said a couple of times during the director's commentary that Corey Feldman was the only kid they auditioned who had the kind of rage to pull off the Teddy Duchamp character. Feldman's audition was the scene where he and the junkyard guy get into it and apparently he nailed it.

  • Horrifically, the leech scene really happened to Stephen King when he was a kid. It was his friend who passed out, though, not Stephen.

  • The part where the kids find the body was supposed to be overcast and dreary, but of course, it was a gorgeous afternoon in Oregon that day. So the production crew used artificial means to make everything look the way they wanted - they even had monofilament fishing line tied to the bushes and had people pulling them off-camera to make them look like the wind was blowing (in addition to having wind machines, of course).

  • The novella, like most Stephen King books, is set in Maine. Although the movie is based in Oregon, the town name, still pays homage to the story: it's Castle Rock.

  • Kent Lutrell, the kid who played the dead body of Ray Brower, grew up to be a stuntman and stunt rigger. He has worked on Baywatch, Army of Darkness, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series), Titanic, Corky Romano and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

  • If you're looking for more reading material, Wil Wheaton has a very interesting blog. I can really relate to his Rock Band addiction.

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    Newest 5 Comments

    My older step brother was killed by a train while playing on a trestle the year before this movie was released, he had just turned 13. Had I known the plot of the movie I doubt I would have ever watched it. I saw it for the first time at age 14 which was 4 years after he had died. The hardest scenes to watch were when the train is behind them on the train trestle and of course when they show Ray Brower's body. The comment about him being knocked right out of his Keds had me sobbing even more than I had already been, it struck too close to reality for me. I watched this movie because I was a huge fan of Corey Feldman and River Phoenix, they acted the roles of Teddy and Chris better than even I expected as a huge fan. It took several years before I could bring myself to watch this movie again but I am glad I did. It helped me to grieve and deal with the loss that forever changed my family in ways I wasn't able to do so before. The movie holds a special place in my heart and my 2 oldest children have now watched it. They enjoyed seeing the way the bonds of friendship were portrayed as did I. It still takes me back to the time in my life when I was sure we'd be best friends and never grow apart. Though I still speak with them from time to time it will never be as it was when we were 12.

    Thank you for this movie trivia. It brought back many bittersweet memories for me. I am going to look for a copy of the dvd so I can buy the movie. When my youngest is old enough to watch it, we will watch it together. She has a few more years until that time.
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    This is such a great movie, it truly sums up the whole coming of age experience. There are not many movies that I get choked up on, but at the end of this one it's tough not to. We all experience growing up and this movie sums it up perfectly.
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    New to this site, fun idea! I've added this gem to my review list (and look forward to seeing it again!)... I write up forgotten/offbeat/classic films suitable for kids so parents so don't have to sit through Shrek a gazillion times. (KidsFlix)

    Love this idea!
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