Stand by Me (film)

Stand by Me (film)
Stand by Me

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Reiner
Produced by Bruce A. Evans
Andrew Scheinman
Screenplay by Bruce A. Evans
Raynold Gideon
Based on The Body by Stephen King
Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss
Starring Richard Dreyfuss
Wil Wheaton
River Phoenix
Jerry O'Connell
Corey Feldman
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography Thomas Del Ruth
Editing by Robert Leighton
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) August 8, 1986 (limited)
August 22, 1986 (wide)
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $52,287,414

Stand by Me is a 1986 American drama film directed by Rob Reiner. Based on the novella The Body by Stephen King, the film takes its title from the song of the same name by Ben E. King (which plays over the end credits).



The film is narrated by an author, Gordie Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss), writing the memoir about his youth. Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Oregon, over Labor Day weekend in September 1959 young Gordie (Wil Wheaton) is a quiet, bookish boy with a penchant for telling stories and writing. He is rejected by his father, following the death of his football-star older brother Denny (John Cusack) in a jeep accident. Denny paid Gordie much more attention than his parents did.

Gordie spends his time with three friends: Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) who is from a family of criminals and alcoholics and is usually stereotyped accordingly, even though he does not conform to the perceptions and stigmas attached to his family; Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) who is eccentric and physically scarred after his mentally unstable father held his ear to a cooktop; and Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell) who is overweight and timid and often picked on.

Gordie, Chris and Teddy learn from Vern that Ray Brower's dead body has been found, apparently killed after being struck by a train. Ray Brower was a young boy whose death and subsequent police search created a big news story in Castle Rock. Vern overhears his older brother Billy (Casey Siemaszko) and his friend Charlie Hogan (Gary Riley) talking about finding the body while dumping a stolen car. So the younger boys decide to embark upon a journey to see if they can find it and become local heroes.

They set out to find the body, first encountering Milo Pressman and his dog Chopper, when they pause to fill their canteens from a well located in his junkyard. They then walk along a train bridge and Vern and Gordie are nearly run over by a passing train. At the end of the day, the boys set up camp and Gordie tells the boys a story he had been thinking of. Later on in the night, Chris reveals to Gordie his fear of being stereotyped as a criminal and never making anything of himself. As they continue they take a short-cut through a swamp only to discover that it is infested with leeches. While desperately removing them from each other, Gordie faints after finding one in his underpants, causing the other boys to wonder if they should go on. Gordie ends up being the decisive one, knowing that they have put in too much work not to see the body.

They locate the boy's dead body and it reminds Gordie that his father liked his brother better than him. At this point, local bully "Ace" Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) and his gang ("Eyeball" Chambers (Bradley Gregg), Vince Desjardins (Jason Oliver), Charlie Hogan, Billy Tessio and two other hoods) show up in their cars to take the body, but Gordie threatens Ace with a handgun that Chris had brought on the trip. (This is in retaliation to an earlier confrontation when Ace took Gordie's New York Yankees baseball cap which was a gift from Denny.) Gordie decides that no one will get credit for finding the dead body and report it found via an anonymous phone call to the authorities.

The film ends with the boys returning home to Castle Rock and saying goodbye to each other. The narrator states that Vern later married straight out of high school, had four children and became a fork-lift driver at a local lumber yard. Teddy tried to join the Army, but, because of his poor eyesight and ear injury, was refused entry. He eventually served jail time and now was doing odd jobs around Castle Rock. Chris was able to stick it out and get by in the advanced classes with Gordie and later moved out of Castle Rock and became a lawyer. However, it is revealed that Chris was recently stabbed and killed when he tried to break up a fight in a line at a fast food restaurant. Gordie then finishes his memoir and takes his son and his friend out swimming.


  • Richard Dreyfuss as Gordie Lachance (adult)
  • Wil Wheaton as Gordie Lachance (age 12). A shy and bookish kid, Gordie has strained relationship parents since his older brother Denny died
  • River Phoenix as Chris Chambers, Gordie's best friend and the leader of the four. Despite being level headed and intelligent, Chris is unfairly pegged as a bad kid by the townspeople since his father is a drunk and his older brother Eyeball is a petty criminal.
  • Jerry O'Connell as Vern Tessio. Timid yet optimistic Vern is the one who overhears his older brother Billy and Billy's friend Charlie Hogan discuss the body.
  • Corey Feldman as Teddy Duchamp. A wild and violent kid, Teddy has much built up anger. His father, a shellshocked World War II veteran who "stormed the beach at Normandy" once put Teddy's ear to a stove, almost burning it off.
  • John Cusack as Denny Lachance, Gordie's deceased older brother shown only in flashbacks.
  • Kiefer Sutherland as "Ace" Merrill, the leader of the gang of teenaged criminals in Castle Rock and the main antagonist.
  • Bradley Gregg as "Eyeball" Chambers. Chris' older brother and a member of Ace's gang.
  • Casey Siemaszko as Billy Tessio, Vern's older brother and also a member of Ace's gang.
  • Gary Riley as Charlie Hogan, Billy's friend and another gang member.
  • Marshall Bell as Mr. Lachance
  • Frances Lee McCain as Mrs. Lachance
  • Bruce Kirby as Mr. Quidacioluo
  • Jason Oliver as Vince Desjardins
  • William Bronder as Milo Pressman
  • Kent W. Luttrell as Ray Brower (the body)


In a 2011 interview with NPR, Wil Wheaton attributed the film's success to the director's casting choices:

Rob Reiner found four young boys who basically were the characters we played. I was awkward and nerdy and shy and uncomfortable in my own skin and really, really sensitive, and River was cool and really smart and passionate and even at that age kind of like a father figure to some of us, Jerry was one of the funniest people I had ever seen in my life, either before or since, and Corey was unbelievably angry and in an incredible amount of pain and had an absolutely terrible relationship with his parents.[1]

Parts of the film were shot in Brownsville, Oregon, which stood in for the fictional town of Castle Rock. Scenes that include the mailbox baseball and the junkyard scenes were filmed in Veneta, Oregon. The junkyard is still in operation. The campout/standing-guard scene was filmed in Eugene, Oregon, just a few miles from Veneta. The general store is in Franklin, Oregon, just north of Veneta. Scenes along the railroad tracks were shot near Cottage Grove, Oregon, along the right-of-way of the Oregon, Pacific and Eastern Railway, now used as the Row River National Recreation Trail. The scene where the boys outrace a locomotive across a trestle was filmed at Lake Britton on the McCloud River Railroad, near McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, California.

Changes from the novella

  • The novella's title is "The Body". It was changed to "Stand By Me" for the film when the song was selected for the end-credits.
  • The novella takes place in Castle Rock, Maine in 1960, the film takes place in Castle Rock, Oregon in 1959
  • There is more cursing and more foul language in the novella than in the film.
  • Near the end of the film, when the four boys face "Ace" Merrill and his gang, Gordie pulls the gun on them. However in the novella it is Chris who pulls the gun.
  • Teddy Duchamp is more violent in the book than in the film.
  • In the film just before the junkyard scene, there is a scene where "Ace", "Eyeball", Billy and Charlie play a game of mailbox baseball, this is not in the novella. Neither are scenes where the older boys take Gordie's baseball cap and where they hang out in a junkyard.
  • The novella contains more biographical information about the older Gordie, including insertion of an entire additional story written by him.
  • In the novella, it is an imagined corpse of Denny in his closet that tells Gordie "it should have been you". In the film, it is Gordie's father in Gordie's dream of the funeral. In the novella, that dream is of corpses of Teddy and Vern trying to drown Gordie, rather than of Denny's funeral.
  • In the novella, the grocery store owner tries to cheat Gordie twice out of his money, and he leaves angry as the owner yells at him. In the movie, the owner is kind and sympathetic, curious about Gordie’s personal life, and empathizes with Gordie over Denny’s demise, as he himself lost a brother during the Korean War.
  • In the film "Eyeball" seems to be Chris's only sibling; however in the novella, Chris also has an older brother, Frank, and three younger siblings.
  • In the novella, it was Gordie who fought with Teddy over train dodging; in the film it was Chris who does so.
  • In the film, Ace pulls out the knife, but in the novella, "Jackie" Mudgett pulls out the knife instead.
  • The novella ends with the implication that the boys' hunt for the body resulted in their acquiring a death curse. Although only Chris is mentioned to have died in the film, descriptions of his, Vern's and Teddy's deaths are given in the novella, Teddy dying in a drunk driving accident and Vern dying in a fire at a house party.
  • In the film it states that Vern had been looking for his quart jar of pennies that he buried under his porch for nine months, but in the novella Gordie says that Vern had been looking for his pennies for four years, and that everyone but Vern was sure his brother had actually stolen them some time right after they had been buried.
  • In the film it shows that when Billy and Charlie are revealing the location of the corpse of Ray Brower, Billy reveals the location to "Eyeball". In the book it states that Billy reveals the location to Jack "Jackie" Mudgett (another member of "Ace"'s gang).
  • In the book, after the boys come back to Castle Rock, they are eventually beaten up by "Ace", "Eyeball", Billy and "Fuzzy" Bracowicz. In the film this is not shown or mentioned.
  • In the film, Gordie and his older brother Denny have a close relationship. However, the novella paints a very different picture; Denny is seen as a "miracle" and Gordie turns out to be more of an unwanted burden born 10 years later. Denny excels at athletics and Gordie eventually comes to resent always being compared to him.
  • In the film, there are seven hoods in Ace's gang, only five of whom have lines - Ace, Eyeball, Billy, Charlie, and Vince Desjardins (who drove the other car in the scene where they are playing "chicken"). Those five appear in the book along with two others identifed as Jack Mudgett and Norman "Fuzzy" Bracowicz. The end credits of the film list Jack Mudgett but not "Fuzzy" Bracowicz among the cast of characters. There is one character identifed as "Moke" who is presumably the second of the two hoods, the first being Jack, who did not have any lines in the film.


Stand by Me has extremely positive reviews, receiving a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2]

Stephen King indicated, on the special features of the 25th anniversary Blu-ray set, that this is the first successful translation to film of any of his works.


  1. "Everyday" (Buddy Holly) – 2:07
  2. "Let the Good Times Roll" (Shirley and Lee) – 2:22
  3. "Come Go with Me" (The Del-Vikings) – 2:40
  4. "Whispering Bells" (The Del-Vikings) – 2:25
  5. "Get a Job" (The Silhouettes) – 2:44
  6. "Lollipop" (The Chordettes) – 2:09
  7. "Yakety Yak" (The Coasters) – 1:52
  8. "Great Balls of Fire" (Jerry Lee Lewis) – 1:52
  9. "Mr. Lee" (The Bobbettes) – 2:14
  10. "Stand by Me" (Ben E. King) – 2:55

Several songs were left off the soundtrack; those missing are "Rockin' Robin" by Bobby Day, "Hushabye" by The Mystics, "Come Softly to Me" by The Fleetwoods and "The Book of Love" by The Monotones, as well as the two songs sung by the four boys originally by other artists: "Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home)" by The Impalas and "The Ballad of Paladin", the theme of the American Western TV series Have Gun – Will Travel peformed by Johnny Western.[3]

Awards and nominations



External links

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