“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
For me “Stand By Me,” is a timeless, magical and powerful film that resonates on so many levels and themes that transcend age, race, nationality, geography, and so on… It hits the heart of those who yearn for the days when friendships could be silly, sad and deeply profound at the same time, and then just like that, they fade away…
After director Rob Reiner screened the movie for Stephen King, he noticed that King was visibly shaking and wasn’t speaking. He left the room and upon his return, told Reiner that the movie was the best adaptation of his work he had ever seen.
“We can enjoy the boy buddies on ‘Stand By Me’ partly [no, largely] because they’re not deranged by hormones, they’re still human, and the contrast between them and the obnoxious [not to mention heartless and violent] teen gang helps us like these boys on the cusp of puberty even more.” ~David Elliott
“River Phoenix’s acting was a key strength in “Stand By Me,” Rob Reiner’s film of a Stephen King story. The sturdy, blond and quietly self-possessed River plays Chris, a boy from a busted home who rallies under duress to become a sort of father to one of his four chums (Gordie) on a long night’s adventure, set in Oregon in 1959.”
In the campfire scene in which Chris breaks down, Rob Reiner was sure River Phoenix could do better. He asked him to think of a time in his own life when an adult had let him down and use it in the scene, which Phoenix did. Upset and crying, he had to be comforted by the director afterwards. The result of Phoenix’s exercise is the scene that ended up in the final cut.
In “Stand By Me,” the $2.37 that the boys have to buy supplies prior to their journey, had the purchasing value in 1959 that $22.53 had in 2021.
In the opening of the scene where Chris meets Gordie and shows him the gun, River Phoenix jumps from the back of a truck and says, “Thanks a lot” to the couple in the front. The truck was driven by Phoenix’s friend, with Phoenix’s mother riding in the passenger seat.
River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton, and Jerry O’Connell got into a lot of mischief in the hotel they were staying in during filming, “Stand By Me.” This included throwing all the poolside furniture into the pool, Wheaton fixing video games in the lobby so they could play them for free and Phoenix (spurred on by the other boys) unknowingly covering Kiefer Sutherland’s car in mud, only discovering whose car it was, when Sutherland confronted a scared and nervous Phoenix about it later.
Keifer Sutherland claimed in an interview that in one of the locations of the film, a Renaissance Fair was being held and the cast and crew attended and bought some cookies. Unfortunately, the cookies turned out to be pot cookies and two hours later, the crew found Jerry 0’Connell crying and high on the cookies somewhere in the park.
While practicing his lines, Jerry O’Connell was impressed that, as an 11-year old, he was being allowed to swear. River Phoenix lost his virginity during filming. Rob Reiner remembered that Phoenix came into work one day “with this big smile on his face” after spending the night with a family friend. He wrote to Reiner on a piece of paper, “It finally happened.” Corey Feldman drank alcohol, kissed a girl off-screen, and smoked pot for the first time during that fateful summer of 1985.
Rob Reiner considers “Stand By Me,” the best film he has ever made. I concur.
“As time went on, we saw less and less of Teddy and Vern until, eventually, they became just two more faces in the halls. Happens sometimes, friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant.”