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Wil Wheaton (l.), River Phoenix (2nd from l.), Jerry O'Connell (pointing) and Corey Feldman (r.) are four boys who have set out to find the body of a missing youth in Columbia Pictures' "STAND BY ME." Based on the novella, "The Body," by Stephen King, the film was directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans, and produced by Andrew Scheinman, along with Evans and Gideon.
About the Production...
Unlike anything we have come to expect on film from Stephen King, this autobiographically inspired story of four boys coming of age in a small town powerfully mixes drama, suspense, adventure, comedy and introspection. The King novella, "The Body," first published in 1982, was especially adapted for the screen by Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans, the writing team behind the successful "Starman." Andrew Scheinman joins Evans and Gideon in producing the film.
Rob Reiner earns his third feature directing credit with "Stand By Me." No stranger to youthful story material, he brought special sensitivity to the filming of the Stephen King story. The actor-turned-director enjoyed box-office success with 1985's "The Sure Thing," a romantic comedy which followed the misadventures of two college students who discover themselves, and in the process, each other. His first directorial project, "This Is Spinal Tap," was a satirical view into the crazy world of rock 'n' roll, a comedy film which received both critical and audience acclaim.
Reiner saw the opportunity to film the Stephen King story as a different king of challenge. "Initially, what attracted by was the intelligence of the writing in the King story," says Reiner. "The characters were very strong and very well-drawn. At the time, I was looking to do something more dramatic, something different from the things I had done in the past. I called Stephen King because I assumed that the piece was semi-autobiographical, or at least gave some hints as to what led him to becoming a writer. I asked him how much of it was true. And he said, 'Well, to be honest with you, I'm a pathological liar and I don't know what is and what isn't true, but if it isn't true, it should be.' "
As Reiner became involved with the development of the material, the story took on a very personal dimension. "While I felt I was examing what had made King the writer he is, I also injected my own personal feelings, what made me become what I am. I basically turned a lot of Gordie into me, a youth who feels he's not understood, with a lot of doubts and fears about himself, who through the help of a friend, starts to feel good and have confidence in himself. For both King and myself, the story was a lot more than just four boys searching the woods for a body."
"Stand By Me" began production on June 17, 1985, in Oregon, utilizing a number of scenic and small-town sites within the state. With very few changes, the historic town of Brownsville was converted to the fictional Castle Rock, hometown for Gordie and the other boys. Special concessions were received from the local railroad company to film on several sections of track. Reiner and his production crew made the best of the beautiful scenery as the company enjoyed an unusually hot and sunny Oregon summer with almost no rain.
In August, the company moved to the rugged Mt. Shasta area of California for two additional weeks of filming, including an edge-of-your-seat railroad trestle bridge scene where the boys are tempted to test fate itself as they attempt a dangerous shortcut over a high river-spanning bridge, with a powerful locomotive engine at their heels.